This vegetarian pasta dish has a blend of delicate flavors. Sweet fresh peas combine with savory elements of porcini mushroom and tender, grilled asparagus to make a harmonious dressing for whole-wheat pasta, and a hint of acidity from lemon, and a bit of saltiness from freshly grated pecorino romano round out the dish — all to keep you thinking about the next bite. Good quality extra-virgin olive oil at the very end seals in the flavors.
Soak the mushrooms in a bowl of water for about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Cook the pasta until al dente, drain, and set aside.
Preheat a grill or cast-iron grill pan on high heat.
Coat the asparagus with olive oil and season with salt and pepper, to taste. When the grill is hot, reduce the heat to medium and add the asparagus in a single layer. Grill until grill marks appear and the asparagus is tender on both sides, about 8-10 minutes total, depending on the thickness of the spears. Remove from the heat and chop when cooled.
Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons of the extra-virgin olive oil together with the red pepper flakes in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic cook until the onion is golden around the edges, about 3 minutes. Then, add the peas and cook for 3 minutes. Drain the mushrooms and add to the pan. Cook the mixture until the peas are tender to the bite, about 3 more minutes.
Combine the pasta, asparagus, and pea-mushroom mixture in a bowl. Add the cheese and the lemon zest and juice. Coat with the remaining extra-virgin olive oil and toss to combine. Serve.