Tieghan Gerard’s spring pasta recipe is a real crowd pleaser – Advice Eating

Nutty, herbaceous spring pasta

Total time:45 minutes


Total time:45 minutes


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If one word springs to mind when thinking about the food of blogger, cookbook author and social media star Tieghan Gerard, it’s this: crowd pleaser.

Gerard, the founder of the Half Baked Harvest brand, is famous for cooking for her large family – including five brothers and a sister – in the mountains of Colorado. Her recipes are grand, decadent and comforting, and she learned early on to make them appealing to people of all tastes. If there’s one thing worse than reading a stranger’s DM or tweet that they didn’t like something you made, it’s hearing it from a loved one across the table.

I’m not sure Gerard has faced any kind of criticism too often, at least not recently. Her fan base is so loyal that her books have topped the bestseller lists with thousands of positive reviews; As of this writing, it holds two spots on Amazon’s top 10 best-selling cookbooks. And when I interviewed Gerard, 28, to a packed house at Sixth & I in Washington in March, the crowd hung on her every word, laughing like old friends who caught the joke when they heard their mother’s fondness for bland food or the Love of one of her brothers to spices.

In her new book, Half Baked Harvest Every Day, Gerard focuses on what she calls “feel-good food.”

“I really wanted to focus on color and balance and bring in more vegetables and create a cookbook that can be easily adapted to many food sensitivities,” she said at the Sixth & I event : ‘How can I make this gluten free? How can I make this dairy free?’ One of the great things about me is that I’ve been able to please everyone a little bit.”

These recipes are not spartan; they are as great and plentiful as ever. Take her Nutty, Herby Spring Pasta, which she describes as her seasonal take on the “warm, cheesy pasta casseroles straight from the oven” she relies on during Colorado’s long, snowy winters. This still has that cozy, comforting vibe, but with asparagus, leeks, and lots of fresh basil — along with the spark of vinegar and apple juice to brighten and brighten.

In true Tieghan Gerard fashion, the recipe involves some carb-on-carb action with the addition of baby potatoes along with noodles, and she lets you cook them at the same time. After you’ve drained the pasta and potatoes, use the same pot to cook the leeks and quick-sauté the asparagus, then toss them with the potatoes and pasta — plus a basil-and-nut-heavy oil to toss in puree in the food processor and a generous amount of grated manchego cheese, a nice change from the standard parm.

“It’s not a health book by any means, guys,” Gerard told the audience at Sixth & I. “There’s still cheese and butter and all the good things I love.”

In fact there is. But as promised, the adjustments are pretty obvious. Gerard didn’t suggest this, so I’m going to do it: Making the recipe vegan would mean simply swapping out the nutritional yeast for the manchego, upgrading the nuttiness — and not losing any of the crowd-pulling in the process.

Nutty, herbaceous spring pasta

Feel free to choose your favorite pasta shape; we prefer something short and bite-sized like orecchiette, macaroni, penne or fusilli. (Ideally choose one that takes about 10 minutes to be al dente, to match the cooking time of the baby potatoes.) It comes together in one pot, plus a food processor — though you could do the chopping by hand if you’d like. like. This keeps it wonderfully durable, making it a great choice for a packed lunch or picnic.

Get ahead: The pasta and potatoes can be cooked and refrigerated for up to 3 days before cooking the vegetable mix and combining the two to serve.

Storage Notes: Refrigerate leftovers for up to 5 days. Freezing is not recommended.

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  • 8 ounces baby potatoes, halved or quartered if large
  • 1 pound short-cut pasta of your choice, such as orecchiette, penne, macaroni, or fusilli
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves, plus more for garnish
  • 1/4 cup raw pine nuts, pepitas, pistachios, or walnuts, or a mix
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon fine salt, divided, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided, plus more to taste
  • 2 leeks, white and light green parts only, halved lengthwise through the root
  • 1 pound asparagus, ends trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely grated or pressed
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, plus more to taste
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine, such as pinot grigio or sauvignon blanc (can substitute 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar plus 2 tablespoons water)
  • 3/4 cup (about 3 ounces) grated manchego cheese (can substitute nutritional yeast or a vegan parmesan like Violife brand), plus more for serving

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add potatoes and pasta and cook according to packet instructions until pasta is al dente and potatoes are barely tender. (The potatoes need about 10 minutes.) Drain both.

Meanwhile, in a food processor, combine basil leaves, nuts and/or seeds, 1/4 cup olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice and zest and finely chop. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and pulse to combine.

Rinse the leeks under the tap and separate the leaves with your fingers, making sure water can get in between (to rid them of any grit). Shake dry, then cut into thin crescents.

In the same saucepan used to cook the pasta set, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the leeks and cook, stirring, until lightly browned and tender, 5 to 8 minutes. Add the asparagus, garlic, red pepper flakes, and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the asparagus is just tender, about 3 minutes. Pour in the wine and cook, scraping off any browned bits from the bottom of the pan, until the liquid is slightly reduced, 1 to 2 minutes. Taste and season with more salt, pepper and paprika flakes if needed.

Add the potatoes, pasta, and cheese to the saucepan and toss well to coat. Add the herb and olive oil mixture and mix everything together. Divide among the bowls, top with more basil leaves and cheese, and serve hot.

Calories: 568; total fat: 19 g; Saturated fat: 5 g; cholesterol: 13 mg; Sodium: 507 mg; carbohydrates: 76 g; fiber: 5 g; sugar: 9 g; Protein: 16 g

This analysis is an estimate based on available ingredients and this preparation. It should not replace the advice of a nutritionist or nutritionist.

Adapted from “Every day half-baked harvest” by Tieghan Gerard (Clarkson Potter, 2022).

Tested by Joe Yonan; email questions insatiable@washpost.com.

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