Pasta Primavera is a dish that was wildly popular in the 80’s and 90’s but now is hardly ever seen on a restaurant menu. A lot of that has to do with the fact that despite the seasonal name of the dish, there wasn’t a lot that was actually seasonal. Primavera means spring, and, well, at least up north here, there isn’t a lot of produce that is fresh and in season. Some also refer to pasta primavera as the green pasta.
No matter what your thoughts are on the dish, it is still fun to look at because of the bright colors of the dish. Beyond that, who doesn’t love pasta with a good garlic cream sauce?
In 1977, at Le Cirque restaurant in New York, Spaghetti Primavera made its debut. Even though I always feel the need to put my own spin on recipes or create my own way to do things, I did decide to give this recipe a shot the way it was. I must say, there were a lot of steps involved, but it really did turn out great. The cream sauce was not as heavy as of the versions I have tried in the past, and the dish was certainly flavorful.
In the end, I did put my own updated twist on the classic dish by roasting the vegetables instead of blanching them. This not only increases the depth of flavor, but also saved a heck of a lot of time! For my Roasted Vegetable Pasta Primavera, I used some of the classic vegetables that I thought would roast well in the oven. I started with broccoli, mushrooms, and asparagus that I tossed in a sealed plastic bag with olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper. I then spread the vegetables out onto a baking sheet and roasted them for twenty minutes. When they were nearly done, I sliced a zucchini into half moons and added them to the pan. I roasted the vegetables for an additional seven minutes, the same length of time it took my pasta to cook.
While my vegetables were roasting, I made my cream sauce using heavy cream, parmesan, garlic, crushed pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. That’s it, but it was definitely a hit around my dinner table! When the pasta was drained, I added it to the cream sauce. I like the looks of the colorful vegetables on top of the dish, so I didn’t add them to the pot. Instead, I served the sauced pasta in bowls then topped them all with the beautiful green vegetables, roasted pine nuts, and a small amount of chiffonade basil.
One thing is for certain whether you use the classic pasta primavera or my version: this is a delicious and easy way to get the family to eat their vegetables!
Roasted Vegetable Spaghetti Primavera
8 ounces spaghetti pasta (regular or gluten-free)
½ cup pine nuts, lightly roasted
12 leaves of basil chiffonade
For the vegetables:
2 cups broccoli florets, trimmed into smaller pieces
1.5 cups sliced portabella, baby bella, or white mushrooms
1 bunch of asparagus, trimmed into 1 inch pieces. (tips and then 2 to 3 cuts down the stalks)
¼ cup olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
3 cloves garlic
1 zucchini, sliced into half moons
For the sauce:
2 cups heavy cream
2 cups shredded parmesan cheese
¼ teaspoon crushed red chili flakes, more if desired
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon cracked black pepper
Preheat the oven to 400. Place the broccoli, asparagus pieces, mushrooms, olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper in a resealable plastic bag. Seal and toss gently until all the vegetables are evenly coated. Lay the vegetables on a rimmed baking sheet and bake them for 20 minutes. Add the zucchini and roast for another 5-8 minutes or just until tender. Remove from the oven and serve over the sauced pasta.
While the vegetables are roasting, fill a pot with water and add about 1 tablespoon of salt. Bring to a boil and cook your pasta according to package instructions. It is best to slightly undercook the pasta since you will be coating it in a warm pasta sauce to serve.
To make the sauce, add all of the ingredients into a small saucepan. Turn heat to medium and whisk until smooth.
To assemble the dish:
Drain the cooked pasta and pour the cream sauce over the top. Gently toss until all pasta is coated. Place the pasta into pasta bowls for serving and top with roasted vegetables, pine nuts, and basil chiffonade
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