Pasta Primavera

This is a wonderful way to celebrate the fresh vegetables and herbs of the spring. It’s a little early in the season, so we deviate somewhat from a traditional pasta primavera. We substitute some frozen, defrosted vegetables. We did not have asparagus or fresh basil on hand, which are often found in a Primavera dish. Additionally, we use a thin wavy noodle called tripolini instead of fettucine or spaghetti. We lighten a traditional recipe slightly using half and half in place of heavy cream.

Servings and Times

Serves: 4
Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 20 minutes

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We start by pre-heating the oven to 350 degrees.

We put a large pot of water on the stove and heat it for the pasta. We spread the frozen pine nuts (we keep our pine nuts in the freezer after we open the package to keep them very fresh) on a cookie sheet in one layer. When the oven is ready, we cook them for about 5 minutes. We want them golden and fragrant.

Meanwhile, we heat 1/2 tablespoon olive oil in our dutch oven over medium heat and add the mushrooms. We saute until tender and the mushrooms have released their liquid. While the mushrooms are cooking, we chop the tomato, yielding 1 1/2 cups. We also quarter lengthwise and slice the zucchini. When the mushrooms are ready, we add salt and pepper, garlic, and half of the tomatoes to the mushrooms and cook over low heat for a minute. We remove this mushroom-tomato mixture to a bowl and take our dutch oven off the heat for a few minutes. We lightly salt the remaining raw chopped tomatoes and have them ready in a prep bowl. We also have the defrosted green beans and peas in a prep bowl, and the chopped parsley in a small bowl.

In a small pot we melt the butter over low heat. We add the half and half, heating over medium-low heat until hot, but not boiling. We turn off the heat and stir in the cheese.

The pasta water has just come to a boil, so we add some salt and the pasta, and cook until al dente. We take out about a cup of pasta water to use if needed for the sauce.

Right after we put the pasta into the pot of water, we heat the remaining olive oil in the dutch oven and add the broccoli and zucchini. We saute for a few minutes over medium heat and then add about a 1/2 cup of pasta water. A couple of minutes before the pasta is cooked, we lower the heat on the dutch oven and add the green beans and peas to the other vegetables. Next we add the cooked mushroom mixture and some more salt and pepper.

When the pasta is done, we drain it in a colander. We pour the pasta into the dutch oven, raise the heat to medium, and add the butter-cheese mixture, raw tomato with its liquid, and parsley. We stir to coat and then top each serving with the toasted pine nuts and some red pepper flakes.

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