Sunday, July 27, 2014
A BOX OF RIDICULOUSLY EXPENSIVE TAGLIARELLE pasta had been lurking in my overflow pantry space (office closet) for a couple of months. Because I had splurged on it, I wanted it to be the star of the dish and not just play a supporting role. I had thought of many ways to use it and in the end I settled on a simple and delicious Pasta Primavera.
My friend Zakiyyah, a restaurant cook, taught me this uncomplicated way to make Pasta Primavera many years ago. Any seasonal vegetables you like can be used. Broccoli, peas, scallions, and carrots are customary choices. Here, I have used asparagus, zucchini, yellow squash, red bell pepper, snow peas, cremini mushrooms, and tomato along with onion and garlic. Fresh basil is traditional and delicious; I added a spoonful of pesto I had leftover from another dish. Zakiyyah also insisted that I use Romano rather than the Parmesan cheese most recipes call for.
The secret to the preparation is having all the vegetables chopped and ready before beginning to cook. I do not endorse the chop and drop method of cooking. . .that is, chop a vegetable while another is beginning to cook in order to get a dish prepared more quickly. I prefer the traditional mise en place style. I want to have everything ready in order to focus my attention on the actual cooking once I begin. My cooking tastes better this way and my enjoyment is greatly enhanced. Not to mention that I love washing and chopping vegetables and prefer being solely attentive to that process as well.
8 ounces pasta of your choice
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
4 ounces cremini mushrooms, sliced
1 red bell pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 zucchini, sliced
1 yellow squash, sliced
1 cup snow peas
8 ounces asparagus, sliced into thirds
1 tomato, peeled, seeded, and chopped
1 tsp. pesto or 1 Tbsp. fresh basil, to taste
1 cup half and half, or more if needed
1/2 cup grated Romano cheese, plus more for serving if desired
Salt and pepper to taste
Cook pasta according to package directions.
Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and cook until beginning to wilt. One by one add all the remaining vegetables, beginning with the ones that need to cook longer, stirring for a few seconds after each addition.
When all the vegetables have been added, stir in some pesto or fresh basil as well as salt and pepper. Stir in the half and half. Once everything is hot, stir in the cheese. Toss together with the pasta. Taste and adjust seasonings.
Garnish with additional cheese if desired and serve right away.