LUIGI - Mushrooms & Asparagus Pesto Linguine
Updated: Jul 19, 2021
Luigi may be Mario's younger and often-overshadowed brother, but we love him anyway!
I conceptualized this recipe as a sort of counterpart to Mario's recipe, the first dish I created for this project. Much like Mario's, Luigi's recipe had to be an Italian pasta dish. While I chose the iconic spaghetti noodles for Mario, I thought the slimmer linguine would be appropriate for Luigi! Both recipes also contain a variety of mushrooms - after all, where would the Bros. be without their iconic arsenal of fungi-based powerups?
Luigi is leaner and greener than Mario, so I wanted this dish to be a healthier alternative to Mario's rich and hearty pasta bake. If Mario's dish is a Super Mushroom, this dish is a 1-UP: healthy and rejuvenating, good for the soul. Its fresh veggies and light green sauce are a nice contrast from the rich red sauce and hearty meatballs of Mario's recipe. Plus, the colours are satisfyingly complementary! I filled this dish with as many green foods as I could, including pistachios in place of the pine nuts traditionally used in pesto.
Above all, this dish captures the simple, wholesome quality of the Super Mario series, and especially the lovable man in green himself. Its bright, and well-nourishing, and just feels good to eat. Its the perfect comfort food, especially for someone like the easily-frightened Luigi!
½ cup pistachios, shelled and coarsely chopped
1 cup fresh basil leaves
1 cup fresh mint leaves
2 cups arugula
2-4 cloves garlic
1 cup olive oil
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
½ cup ricotta cheese
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
The zest and juice of 1 lemon
Salt and pepper
8 oz linguine
1 leek (dark green leaves removed), thinly sliced
1 bunch asparagus (hard stems removed), cut into 1-inch pieces
2 cups assorted mushrooms, coarsely chopped
Add pistachios and garlic to a food processor or blender. Pulse until a paste is formed.
Roughly chop basil, mint, and arugula and add to the food processor. Pulse until smooth. Add olive oil, balsamic vinegar, ricotta, parmesan cheese, lemon zest and juice, and a pinch of salt and pepper to the food processor. Process on medium or high until completely smooth.
Boil linguine, according to directions on package, until al dente. Reserve a ¼ cup of pasta water.
Add a drizzle of oil to the skillet and sauté leeks, asparagus, and mushrooms until leeks are soft and translucent and asparagus has softened.
Drain and add pasta to the skillet. Add sauce and stir until pasta is well coated. Add a splash of reserved pasta water to loosen up the sauce.
TOP TIER TIPS
Make sure to thoroughly wash leeks: they are a naturally dirty plant as lots of dirt and grime can become lodged between the leaves. Simply cut off the root and the large dark green leaves at the top, slice up the light green and white parts, and thoroughly rinse in a medium bowl. Strain with a colander or sieve. Repeat a few times until no more grit is visible in the water.
Trimming the hard and woody part of asparagus stalks is super easy with this little trick: use gentle pressure to bend each stalk until it snaps - the stalk will naturally break precisely where you need it to!
If you'd like to add protein to this dish, bake and slice up one or two chicken breasts and incorporate during the final stages of cooking!
Alternatively, this dish can be easily adapted to a vegan diet: simply use your vegan pasta of choice, and leave out the cheese in the recipe!