Every night our dinner includes vegetables. I make it a point. Whether they are the premiere ingredient or showcased as a side. We love our veggies. In fact, I have a vegetable bowl that lives in my fridge. A bowl that I put the “leftover” veggies in from each night. Sure we eat them the next day, but there ‘s always some left-a few carrots here, a bit of broccoli there. Some are steamed, grilled, or sautéed. In the Fall and Winter, I will freeze the leftovers for vegetable puree for soup. In the Summer and Spring months, I make Pasta Primavera. After all Pasta or Spaghetti Primavera was created to showcase fresh Spring veggies. My pasta Primavera is a lighter version. There isn’t any butter or cream in it…unless you want to add it! O.K., before you think I have lost my mind, yes, I know it is Fall, but we just had a 90 degree day here in south Louisiana, so it has me craving this dish. Did I mention I also love it because it is super quick? Only about 15 minutes! If you know right away, your family would never eat a bowl of pasta with just veggies. Don’t worry, I’ll let you know when to add fresh shrimp! (Or just mix in some Rotisserie chicken at the end.)
QUICK & LIGHT VEGETABLE PRIMAVERA: I have made this dish with just about all vegetables and vegetable combinations. Today, my vegetable bowl includes zucchini, squash, carrots, onions, mushrooms, and broccoli.
Let’s get started: Boil a pot of your favorite pasta with a peeled garlic clove. I always add a couple of garlic cloves or two do when making pasta. It gives you nice soft garlic to spread on bread, but today it is going in our sauce. When pasta is done, let it sit in the pasta water. Today, I am using fresh tomato basil fettuccine and garlic parsley fettuccine. Don’t be afraid to mix pasta noodle flavors and types. It adds depth to a dish! In a skillet, over medium high heat, add 1 cup of chicken broth or stock. (I like to use chicken stock, but vegetable stock another good choice for vegetarian meal like for meatless Monday!) Simmer 5 minutes. Add the juice of 1 lemon,about 1/4 cup juice (Throw in a little lemon zest, never hurts) 1 tsp Italian seasoning, and the garlic clove from the pasta (yes, dig it out and give it a little mash or run it through garlic press) and 1/2 cup pasta water. The pasta water will help thicken the sauce. (If you would like to add shrimp, now is the time!) If desired, you could also add in 1 TBSP butter or cream. I add in 1 TBSP of white wine, that’s the keeping it light part! I like the added citrus zing it brings. The sauce will begin to reduce. Simmer 5 more minutes, stirring occasionally. Add in the vegetables. Turn heat to low and saute until vegetables are fully heated. Get pasta out of pot using tongs and add to the vegetables. (By using tongs, not only will the noodles have a little pasta water left on them to help the sauce stick but also leftover pasta water for reheating or to make more sauce.) Fold in hot pasta and 1 TBSP grated Parmesan cheese. Stir. That’s it! Pasta will be too hot to eat right away, so let it sit for a few minutes and the pasta will absorb even more sauce.
Put your TO COOK IS TO CREATE thinking cap on: Have some sliced cherry tomatoes or sun-dried tomatoes? They are a nice addition. How could you change the seasoning based on what veggies you are using? How about Cajun or Mexican spices? Only have 1 kind of vegetable, highlight it! I have used all broccoli, 1 TBSP peanut butter in place of the wine, butter, or cream and topped with crushed peanuts for “pad thai” style noodles. Is your family a bunch of cheeseaholics? Put pasta Primavera in casserole dish (with a little extra pasta waster) top with cheese and bake until cheese melts, like a vegetable casserole.
FOOD FUN: Doesn’t it seem as if Pasta Primavera has been around for ages in restaurants? But it didn’t premiere until the mid to late 1970’s in a New York restaurant, Le Cirque. According to the restaurant’s history, however, Spaghetti Primavera was never actually put on the menu. It is said, the chef at the time, didn’t want “spaghetti” in his kitchen, so the dish was prepared tableside. It still is not on the menu, but can be requested and served without denial from the kitchen.