Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Pasta Primavera

First of all, I'd like to thank everyone for the kind words in my pregnancy announcement!  Like I said, we are very excited, despite the 1st trimester nausea.  I really shouldn't complain though - overall it has been much milder than when I was pregnant with Caroline.  I'm pretty sure I didn't cook for 6 straight weeks back then!  This time around I felt marginally better, but more than anything I struggled to eat plenty of fruits and veggies, since the thought pretty much turned my stomach.  The best way to get around that?  Mix them up with carbs!

Pasta Primavera is aptly named for its plethora of spring vegetables.  While it's certainly not low-calorie, it is full of vegetables.  This particular version contains asparagus, green beans, peas, zucchini, mushrooms, and tomatoes.  While this dinner isn't challenging, it is a bit time and labor-intensive.  First, the vegetables are blanched (cooked briefly in boiling water).  The mushrooms are cooked with the tomatoes and cream to form a rich sauce, the noodles are cooked, and then finally, it's all combined and finished with basil, lemon juice, and Parmesan cheese.

This was a hit with our whole family - Caroline especially liked the noodles, but she ate the veggies with gusto as well.  So as I said, it's not necessarily a healthy dish, but any dinner that will get Caroline (and me) to eat this many vegetables is definitely a winner in my book!

Pasta Primavera
serves 6 as a main course
adapted from Cook's Illustrated, The New Best Recipe
  • salt
  • 6 oz green beans, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
  • 12 medium asparagus spears, tough ends snapped off, halved lengthwise, and cut into 3/4-inch pieces
  • 1 medium zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • 6 Tbs unsalted butter
  • 8 oz mushrooms, sliced thin
  • 4 large plum tomatoes (about 1 lb), cored, peeled, and chopped medium*
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1 lb dried fettuccine
  • 3 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup shredded basil leaves
  • juice from 1/2 lemon
  • freshly grated Parmesan, for serving
Bring 3 quarts of water to a rolling boil in a large saucepan, and add 1 tablespoon of salt.  Fill a large bowl with ice water and set aside.  Add the green beans to the boiling water and cook 1 1/2 minutes.  Add the asparagus and cook 30 seconds.  Add the zucchini and cook 30 seconds.  Finally, add the peas and cook 30 seconds.  Drain the vegetables and submerge in the ice water to stop the cooking.  Let sit until chilled, about 3-5 minutes.  Drain well and set aside.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta.

Heat 3 tablespoons of the butter in the new-empty saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add the mushrooms and cook until browned, 8-10 minutes.  Add the tomatoes and red pepper flakes, reduce the heat to medium, and simmer until the tomatoes begin to lose their shape, about 7 minutes.  Add the cream and simmer until slightly thickened, about 4 minutes.  Cover to keep warm and set aside.

Add 1 Tablespoon of salt to the boiling water and add the pasta.  Stir to separate the strands, and cook until al dente. 

As the pasta cooks, melt the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the garlic and saute until fragrant and very lightly colored, about 1 minute.  Add the vegetables and cook until heated through, about 2-3 minutes.  Season with salt to taste; set aside.  Bring the tomato-mushroom mixture back to a simmer over medium heat.

Drain the pasta and add it to the skillet with the vegetables.  Add the mushroom-tomato sauce, and over low heat, gently toss well to coat and distribute the vegetables.  Add the basil and lemon juice, and season with salt and pepper  to taste.  Toss well and divide the pasta among individual serving bowls.  Serve immediately, passing the cheese separately.

*to peel the tomatoes, cut a small "x" in the bottom of the tomato, and cook in boiling water 30 seconds-1 minute, or until the skin begins to crack.  Submerge in an ice bath, then peel the skin.


Atlanta, Food and Love said...

Yum! I see this in my near future! And its really not too unhealthy...especially if you use whole wheat pasta!

Gloria Baker said...

You have nice recipes Josie I love them!! gloria

The Jesse said...

i'm loving this recipe! thanks for sharing :)

Unknown said...

Yah for babies! ha, Lovely recipe.

katie said...

Beautiful dish. Cream makes all vegetables taste better.

Sara said...

Hi there! I just came across your blog and it's so cute! You have a lot of great recipes and I'll be back often. Congrats on baby #2!

Sweet and Savory by Sarah said...

I love me some Pasta! Thanks for the recipe! Looks great!

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