- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 3, 2006

Pasta primavera (spring pasta) refers to a combination of pasta with delicately cooked fresh vegetables from the earliest spring harvest.

As merely a theme of the classic Italian vegetable-pasta medley, it leaves much room for interpretation. This means you don’t need to wait until spring to create a fantastic vegetable-laced pasta extravaganza. Why not have a seasonal special in this category for dinner every few months, featuring the star vegetables of the moment?

As you discover the unlimited possibilities for combining various pasta shapes and any vegetable that is in its prime (or in your freezer, such as green peas), more and more quick and elegant dinner ideas will enter your everyday repertoire.

The following recipe is but one example. I call it “confetti spaghetti,” as that is really what it looks like. This particular version bears the colors of the Italian flag.

Try it this way and then feel free to experiment with different vegetables.

Confetti spaghetti

You can easily defrost the green peas by placing them in a strainer and running them under room-temperature tap water. Drain thoroughly.

Water

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 cups sliced or chopped onion

½ teaspoon salt (or to taste)

2 cups chopped broccoli florets

2 cups chopped cauliflower

2 handfuls slender green beans, trimmed

1 medium red bell pepper, diced

1 heaping tablespoon minced or crushed garlic

Freshly ground black pepper

1 pound spaghetti or linguine

1 cup green peas (frozen/defrosted)

Freshly grated Parmesan

2 handfuls minced fresh flat-leaf parsley

2 handfuls minced fresh basil leaves

Put up a large pot of water to boil. Heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the onion and salt, and saute over medium heat for about 5 minutes, or until the onion begins to soften. Add the broccoli, cauliflower and green beans, and cook, stirring, until the vegetables are barely tender (about 5 to 8 minutes). Add the bell pepper and garlic and cook for another 5 minutes or so. Add black pepper to taste, and taste to adjust salt. Remove from heat and set aside.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta in the boiling water until al dente. Drain, and transfer to a large bowl. Scrape in all the cooked vegetables along with the peas and a good helping of grated cheese.

Toss to distribute everything, sprinkling in the herbs as you go. Serve immediately. Makes 4 to 5 servings.

TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES

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