Pasta Primavera is a wonderful pasta dish that burst with spring fresh and flavourful veggies. This chock full of vegetables is extremely a nutritious and healthy pasta dish which makes a lovely entrée for spring. Pasta primavera is popular dish from the Italian cuisine.
Pasta is a staple food from traditional Italian cuisine with the first reference dating back to 1154. Typically pasta is made from unleavened dough of durum wheat flour mixed with water and formed into sheets or various shapes, then cooked and served in any number of dishes. Pasta can also be made with flour from other cereals or grains and eggs can be used instead of water. Pastas may be divided into two broad categories, dried (pasta secca) and fresh (pasta fresca).
Pasta is generally served with various types of sauce. The sauce and the type of pasta are generally matched based on consistency and ease of eating. A mix of tomato sauce, garlic and herbs are used in Northern Italian cooking. In Bologna, the meat based Bolognese sauce incorporates a small amount of tomato concentrate and a green sauce called pesto originates from Genoa. There are various other versions of sauces such as tomato sauce, pasta onion sauce, chicken pasta mango cream sauce, spaghetti Bolognese and the egg based carbonara.
In pasta primavera, the vegetables and pasta are tossed together in a cream sauce made with broth and heavy cream. For a classic or lighter and brighter version you can make a creamy sauce without cream. Wonderful and colourful spring vegetables like asparagus, fresh green peas, chives, leeks and garlic are best chosen for depth and sweetness. Experimenting in making deeply flavoured sauces were influenced from risotto; lightly toasting the pasta in olive oil before cooking it in broth and white wine. The sauce flavoured the pasta as it cooked while the pasta added starch to the sauce, thickening it without the need for heavy cream. This non-traditional approach gave a light but creamy sauce with sweet, grassy flavours that paired perfectly with the vegetables for a dish that truly tasted like spring.
Pasta primavera is an Italian-American dish that consists of pasta and fresh vegetables. Meats such as chicken, sausage or shrimp are also added sometimes but the main focus of primavera is the vegetables themselves. Traditionally the dish may contain almost any kind of vegetable, but cooks tend to stick to firm, crisp vegetables, such as broccoli, carrots, peas, onions and green bell peppers, with tomatoes. Pasta primavera is usually highlighted by light flavours, aromatic herbs and bright colors (‘primavera’ meaning the season of spring). Since primavera means spring, the vegetable choices should be the crisp new vegetables of spring. Classic primavera sauce is based on a soffritto of garlic and olive oil, and finished with Parmesan cheese. However versions further enriched by, or based on, a heavier cream or Alfredo sauce are also common. Pasta primavera is best classified as an excellent appetizer.
Pastas served with this dish are typically smaller shapes, such as penne, farfalle, rigatoni and fusilli. If using longer types of pasta, such as spaghetti or fettuccine, the vegetables are normally sliced in thin strips to match the shape of the noodles. In this recipe, we are using the fettuccine pasta which literally means ‘little ribbons’ in Italian. It is a type of pasta popular in Roman cuisine. It is a flat thick noodle made of egg and flour wider than but similar to the tagliatelle typical of Bologna. They are eaten with sugo d’umido (beef ragù) and ragù di pollo (chicken ragù). A popular fettuccine dish in North America is fettuccine alfredo.
To prepare this delicious Pasta primavera, firstly wash and trim one bunch green onions into small cubes and 1 large leek (dark green parts trimmed off and discarded), chopped, washed thoroughly; soak them in cold water and strain the water off.
In a bowl, add in ½ cup fresh green peas, 1 cup sugar snap peas (cut finely into equal sized pieces), 2 green zucchini diced finely, 2 jalapeno, diced and 1 bunch asparagus, stalks diced, tips left whole and keep aside.
Add water in a sauce pan to cook the pasta. To make a wonderful green sauce, take a bunch of basil and just blanch in hot water. Remove and add the leaves in a bowl, 2 cloves garlic, 1/2 cup olive oil, 3 cups chicken or vegetable broth and blend all these ingredients into a nice puree.
In the saucepan of hot water, cook 1 pound fettuccine as per the instructions and once the pasta is done, drain off the excess water. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a pan over medium high heat the chopped green onions, leeks and toss them well. Sweat them thoroughly for about 5 minutes and then add in mix of finely chopped vegetables and cook for another 5 minutes. Finally add in the asparagus and mix. Cook for about 3 minutes or until vegetables are crisp-tender and then add in the green sauce, mix and cook for a minute stirring constantly until it thickens.
In a fresh bowl, add in the boiled pastas, and mix in the vegetables mix with sauce over the pasta and toss gently to coat. Sprinkle over 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, or as needed, salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste. Serve immediately.
Pasta Primavera is a burst of spring and it taste exceptionally delicious when you actually use a variety of fresh spring vegetables. When done right, this is one of the year’s great seasonal recipes. This looks, smells, and tastes like a cool, sunny spring day. Do give it a try and enjoy eating.