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This classic vegetable pasta comes alive when tossed with a flavorful herb sauce.


  • One fat pinch saffron, about 30 threads
  • ½ cup boiling water
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • About 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO), plus ¼ cup
  • 1 bundle thin asparagus, trimmed and thinly sliced on bias
  • 1 cup shelled fresh peas
  • 1 small, firm zucchini, halved and thinly sliced on bias
  • 1 bunch spring onions, halved lengthwise, thinly sliced on bias, whites and light greens (or 2 leeks)
  • 1 cup shelled fava beans
  • 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced or chopped
  • 1 cup flat-leaf parsley
  • ½ cup mint
  • ½ cup tarragon or basil
  • 2 small red chili peppers
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese


Serves: 4


Heat a large pot of water to boil for pasta.

Place saffron in small bowl and cover with boiling water to steep and bloom.

Salt water and drop spaghetti, undercook by 1 minute.

Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat with EVOO, 2 turns of the pan, about 2 tablespoons. Sauté the asparagus, peas, zucchini, onions and fava 3-4 minutes, add garlic, season with salt and pepper and stir a minute or 2 more, then turn off heat.  

Place the herbs, chilies, zest and juice of 1 lemon, about ¼ cup EVOO, salt and pepper in a food processor and pulse into a pesto-like herb sauce.

Toss drained pasta with saffron and its water, herb sauce and butter, adjust seasonings and top with grated or shredded cheese.