Penne tossed with spring vegetables, such as carrots, morel mushrooms, asparagus, peas and fava beans, along with loads of fresh herbs is a perfect example of Mario Batali’s rustic approach to great-tasting Italian food. When both fava beans and morel mushrooms are in season, by all means use them in this recipe. But if you can’t find either of those, substitute what looks best. Basic cremini mushrooms will work and frozen lima beans are a good option. Recipe adapted from Molto Gusto by Mario Batali and Mark Ladner (Ecco/HarperCollins Publishers, 2010).
Heat 1/4 cup oil in a large pot over medium-high heat until hot. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until barely golden, about 30 seconds. Add carrots, reduce heat to medium, and cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to soften, 3 to 4 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to soften, 2 to 3 minutes. Add sliced asparagus stalks and cook for 2 minutes, then add the asparagus tips, peas, beans and scallions. Season with sea salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, until all the vegetables are just tender, about 2 minutes more. Remove from the heat.
Meanwhile, bring 6 quarts of water to a boil in another large pot. Add kosher salt and pasta; cook until just tender, 10 to 12 minutes (or according to package directions). Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking water.
Add the pasta and 1/4 cup of the reserved cooking water to the vegetables, stirring and tossing over medium heat to mix well. Cover, reduce heat to low, and allow to steam together for 2 minutes. Stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and a splash or two more of the reserved cooking water if necessary to loosen the sauce. Stir in the parsley, basil and mint. Serve with Parmigiano.