How to Make Incredible Pasta Primavera
|By Meg Jones - wife, mother,
Now that it’s July and the heat is on, my culinary interests lean toward vegetables and fruits. But, ironically, it was my love of bacon and cheese that brought me back to a veggie-focused favorite, Pasta Primavera.
What do bacon and cheese have to do with Pasta Primavera?
My college friends told me that I once said that when I am old, I will eat cheese and bacon with careless abandon. While I don’t specifically recall that declaration, I’m glad they did because it resulted in a group “…..-of-the-month” gift of cheese AND bacon, for my 60th birthday.
We have enjoyed each delivery so much that I decided to research other food-item-of-the-month clubs for the Reluctant Gourmet in celebration of Father’s Day. I landed on Pasta of the month. Enter Pasta Primavera.
The First Installment
The first installment from The Flying Noodle pasta-of-the-month club included two kinds of pasta, two sauces, and a flyer that featured a recipe for Pasta Primavera. So naturally, we couldn’t wait to try it, even though we didn’t have all the ingredients on hand. So we improvised.
First, we decided which of the two kinds of pasta to use; the options were Roma Trevia’s Summer Herb Linguine, made with “tons of herbaceous flavor” (who even knew that was a word), including basil, parsley, thyme, etc., or Sun-Dried Tomato Fusilli. Since I burned out on sun-dried tomatoes when they were all the rage and incorporated into every single dish in every single restaurant in NYC in the early ’90s, we went with the linguine.
A Lot of Vegetables
Then we pulled out all the vegetables from the drawer, one of each: carrot, broccoli, zucchini, yellow squash, orange bell pepper, and some cherry tomatoes. In addition, we may have included a few stray asparagus spears. We also grabbed a small red onion, a few garlic cloves, and a handful of parsley.
We prepped all the vegetables so we could be efficient in adding ingredients sequentially based on cooking time. For instance, carrots and onions will take longer than garlic and peppers. So we peeled the carrot, cut it in half lengthwise, and then sliced it about ¼ inch thick half-moons.
We did the same with the zucchini and yellow squash, except without peeling. Next, we cut the few asparagus spears into 1-½ inch lengths. Next, the broccoli was chopped into small florets; one medium stalk rendered about 2 cups. (Side note: after cutting off the florets, I slice the remaining broccoli stalk into “broccoli stars” that my kids used to snack on. I still do!)
We seeded the bell pepper and cut it into strips. Next, we halved the cherry tomatoes, quartered the onion, sliced the quarters, and minced the garlic.
The recipe also called for dried Italian seasoning, which we didn’t have, so we pulled out garlic powder and dried oregano and hoped that would suffice. We also shredded a small block of Parmesan and chopped up the parsley to finish the dish, along with a drizzle of lemon juice.
We had lemons in the refrigerator, so we squeezed a few teaspoons out but you could always substitute with store-bought lemon juice. So with that, the mise en place was complete, except for the pasta water, which would come later.
Ready to Start Cooking Pasta Primavera
When we were ready to cook, we started the water boiling for the pasta. We have a container of cooking salt right next to the stove, so I always throw a spoonful or two into the water.
Once the water was boiling, we tossed in the linguine and cooked for about 8 minutes. Before draining, we scooped out a cup of pasta water to add to the sauce.
While the pasta was cooking, we heated olive oil and a little butter in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. The carrot and onion went in first for 2 minutes of sauté time. I use a timer because I have learned that my sense of timing in the kitchen can vary widely from reality.
The broccoli and pepper are next for another 2 minutes, followed by the zucchini, asparagus, and yellow squash for another 2 minutes, and the garlic, tomatoes, and spices. Guess how long? Yep, two minutes.
For those of you keeping score, we are now up to 8 minutes – notice how nicely that correlates with the amount of time the pasta cooks. If you like your vegetables on the softer side, you may need to add a minute or two along the way. And remember to stir occasionally!
We pulled out a large pasta bowl, adding the cooked vegetables first, followed by the pasta. Next, we added about 2-3 teaspoons of lemon juice, salt, and pepper to taste, and about ½ cup of pasta water to thicken the sauce and help the veggies “adhere” to the pasta.
We tossed it all together, throwing in about half of the grated Parmesan for good measure. Then we dished it out, topping each serving with more Parmesan, chopped parsley, and a drizzle of finishing olive oil.
Wow. A perfect summer meal, or as I always say to my kids, “good and good for you.”
I still love you, bacon and cheese; I’ll see you in September!
- 1 pound linguine or other pasta of choice
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 small onion quartered and sliced
- 1 large carrot peeled and slicd into half-moons
- 2 cups broccoli florets cut into small pieces
- 1 medium bell pepper (red, orange or yellow) slice lengthwise into strips
- 6 stalks asparagus cut into 1½ inch pices
- 1 medium zucchini sliced into quarters
- 1 medium yellow squash sliced into quarters
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes cut in half
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon dried basil
- ¼ teaspoon onion powder
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 cup reserved pasta water
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- ½ cup Parmesan cheese freshly grated
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley chopped
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add linguine per instructions on the package. Reserve about 1 cup of pasta water before draining.
- While the pasta is cooking, heat olive oil and butter in a large, deep frying pan over medium-high heat.
- Add the onion and carrot to the pan and sauté for 2 minutes. Next, add the broccoli and pepper and sauté for 2 minutes. Next, add the zucchini, yellow squash, and asparagus, and sauté for 2 minutes. Finally, add garlic, tomatoes, and spices, sautéing another 2 minutes.
- Spoon the cooked vegetables into a large pasta serving bowl. Add the drained cooked pasta, drizzle with the lemon juice, and add salt and pepper to taste. Toss the pasta and vegetables, gradually adding pasta water to help the blend come together and the vegetables to adhere to the pasta. You may not need all the reserved water.
- Add half of the parmesan cheese and parsley and give it another stir. Serve with remaining parmesan on the top and a little finishing olive oil.