Wednesday, April 11, 2007

pasta primavera: eat spring

Primavera means spring in Italian, I believe, and is also the name of Botticelli's painting, which hangs in the Uffizi in Florence, where I saw it when I was very tired. There are no elevators in the Uffizi, or at least none that an able-bodied but exhausted tourist could take. But even so, even though my feet hurt all the way up to my knees after walking the cobblestones of Florence for days, it's still a hell of a painting.
In it, Venus watches the 3 Graces dancing, and she looks serenely content. Possibly, she had just had some pasta beforehand? Pasta Primavera is certainly good enough for a goddess.
Traditionally, PP is pasta served with sauteed vegetables and a cream sauce. I often make it with a sort of bechamel though, because I have the ingredients for that always at hand. This one is a hybrid--it has a flour-thickened sauce, but also a bit of cream.
Pasta Primavera
3 cups pasta
3 tbs olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 shallots, chopped
8-10 baby portabella mushrooms, sliced
1/2 tsp tarragon
pinch of fennel seeds
bunch of asparagus, sliced on the diagonal
1 broccoli crown, separated into florets
2 small zucchini, sliced (not too thin)
handful of fresh peas (although frozen would be fine)
2 tbs flour
2 cups chicken broth (could use vegetable broth to make it vegetarian)
splash of wine
2 tbs cream
1/2 cup sour cream (I used low-fat)
about 3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
I sauteed the onions and shallots in 2 tbs of the oil, and when they had started to soften, added the mushrooms, fennel, and tarragon. While the pasta was cooking, I cut up the vegetables; when the pasta was done, I scooped it out of the pot with a slotted spoon, and then used the pasta water to cook the vegetables, one kind at a time (so each would be just tender).
When the mushroom mixture was done, I spooned it out, added a little more oil to the pan, and then the flour, mixing it up well. Then in with the wine and the broth--I stirred it around, smashing flour lumps with the back of the spoon, until it started to thicken. I added the 2 creams and stirred them in, then the grated cheese, then stirred in the mushroom mixture.
Finally, everything into a bowl--the pasta, the vegetables, and the sauce folded together so that everything was well combined.
I served it with additional grated cheese (although D and I agreed that it didn't need any) and orange sections that had been sprinkled with pomegranite vinegar and rose petal cardamom syrup. An excellent dinner to remind us that it's really spring, even though there's still a considerable amount of snow in the back yard.
(I owe this dinner in large part to Whole Foods, where I bought the vegetables on my 1st visit to the Cleveland area's new store, which is fabulous!)


holly_44109 said...

i'm waiting till i have a free weekday to make it out to whole foods...i'm guessing it's like trader joe's on the weekends!

lucette said...

I went on Tuesday--plenty of shoppers, but no crowds.

Maureen McHugh said...

Rose petal cardemon syrup. That sounds fit for a goddess.

MJN/NYC said...

Do you have a recipe for pasta primavera without the cream?