It's a balmy 2 degrees in my neck of the woods. And spring is in the air. At least tonight. I couldn't deal with any more meat-based comfort food, I had to lighten up. Something vegetarian and colorful was called for. Like pasta primavera. This is my own recipe, pieced together from this and that over the years. You can have it on the table in 20 minutes.
None of the ingredients are set in stone, you can make it with whatever vegetables you have to hand, but for this version you will use:
- Orange and red cherry tomatoes
- 1 small zucchini
- 2 carrots
- 1 tub "ciliegine"—small mozzarella cheese balls
- Pasta of your choice (I had pappardelle in the pantry)
- 1 bunch asparagus (Last minute swap, I realize spinach is in the picture and then I changed my mind...)
- 3-4 garlic cloves
- Pasta of choice
Start your pasta water boiling on the stove. Slice asparagus diagonally into 1-2 inch pieces. With a vegetable peeler, make "ribbons" from the zucchini and carrot. Put all this aside in one bowl, these are your "wet" veggies which will go into the pasta water for the last 3 minutes of cooking time.
In the bowl you will serve in, halve about 40 cherry tomatoes (I did 20 orange, 20 red). Then halve the mozzarella cheese balls. Set aside. Salt your pasta water and add pasta. While it's cooking, chop 3-4 garlic cloves. Add the asparagus, carrot and zucchini ribbons to the boiling water for the last 3 minutes.
Reserve 1 cup of the cooking water and then drain pasta in colander in the sink. Put pot back on stove, add a little olive oil and butter and saute the garlic on medium-low heat for five minutes—don't rush, there's not much that's more nasty than burned garlic. Add the pasta water and then put the pasta and veggies back in the pot. Mix to coat with the sauce and then turn into your serving bowl that's holding the tomatoes and cheese.
Toss well to distribute all the color, add some chopped parsley.
This dish is killer when all these vegetables are actually in season. And still pretty damn good in the clutches of a particularly brutal winter.