Food & Drink

Pasta dish shows off summer garden

Fill Pasta Primavera with all of summer’s great vegetables.
Fill Pasta Primavera with all of summer’s great vegetables.

Although it can be enjoyed any time of year, this colorful dish is intended to celebrate the delicate fresh vegetables associated with summer. So, This Better Homes & Gardens recipe, which came from “Moosewood Restaurant Favorites,” isn’t smothered in a heavy cream sauce or add any strong seasonings. Rather, the slender sticks of vegetables are lightly sauteed and it’s made a little bit saucy with tomatoes and wine.

Most of the vegetables are cut into matchstick shapes about the same length as penne or rigatoni so that they cook quickly, complement the pasta and are easy to eat. But you could use fusilli or farfalle or just about any other shape of pasta.

Pasta Primavera

1 pound asparagus

1 pound chunky pasta (whole wheat is nice)

1 tablespoon olive oil

6 garlic cloves, minced or pressed

1 small red onion, thinly sliced

2 small carrots, peeled and cut into 2-inch matchsticks

1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 2-inch matchsticks

2 small zucchini, cut into 2-inch matchsticks

2 cups chopped tomatoes

1/4 cup dry white wine

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup fresh or frozen green peas

1/2, cup sliced fresh basil

Ground black pepper

About 1 cup grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese

The goal here is for the pasta and the sauteed vegetables to be done at about the same time. You need to manage both a pot of water for the asparagus and the pasta, and a large skillet or other heavy pan for sauteing the vegetables.

First, prep the vegetables and grate the cheese, and while you’re doing that, put a large covered pot of salted water on to boil and cook the asparagus.

Break off and discard the tough ends of the asparagus spears and cut them into 2-inch pieces. When the water is at a boil, cook the asparagus for a minute or two until vivid green and barely tender. Remove the asparagus with a slotted spoon and set aside. Keep the water boiling to be ready for the pasta.

In a large skillet or pan on medium-high heat, warm the oil. Add the garlic, red onions, and carrot sticks. Saute for a minute or two, stirring frequently. Stir the pasta into the pot of boiling water, and cook. Add the bell peppers and zucchini to the skillet and continue to saute for a few minutes. Add the cooked asparagus and the tomatoes and wine, which will quickly bubble and steam. Add the salt and finish cooking the vegetables until just tender. Stir in the peas and basil. If you are using frozen peas rinse them with boiling water before adding. Season with black pepper and add more salt to taste, When the pasta is al dente. drain it, reserving about 1/4 cup of the cooking water.

In a large serving bowl, toss the pasta with about half of the grated cheese and the reserved cooking water. Drizzle the pasta with a little olive oil if you like. Top the pasta with the vegetables, sprinkle on the rest of the cheese, and serve right away.

Nutritional information is based on 6 servings, using 1 pound of chunky whole-wheat pasta. Each serving has 439 calories, 561 mg sodium, 73 grams carbohydrates, 11 grams fiber, 9 grams fat, 15 mg cholesterol, 8 grams sugar, 22 grams protein.