In Italian, the word ‘Primavera” literally means “spring,” like the season. The time of year when nature springs to life, color is restored to the landscape and a man’s fancy turns to, well, you get the idea. But with it comes an entirely new set of recipes. The heavier stews and stuff are pushed aside in favor of lighter, more fanciful fare. Pasta primavera is just such a dish. With an assortment of vegetables and a clear sauce, this is the perfect weeknight meal for a nice evening. The mere fact that it contains macaroni is just a plus. You can also leave the chicken out altogether, or substitute fish, shrimp, scallops or clams. Simple preparation with real good results.
INGREDIENTS: (vary these according to your own taste, but I’ll give you mine)
Broccoli, about a cup and equal amounts of carrots and cauliflower. Feel free to add peas too.
2 nice cloves garlic, chopped or sliced
½ large onion, sliced
1 chicken breast or thigh
EVOO, about ¼ cup
Splash of dry, white wine (never cook with a wine you wouldn’t drink)
Salt and some red pepper flakes(for a little zip. Otherwise, leave them out.)
A few cherry tomatoes
Okay. So as with all good Italian recipes, begin with, brown the garlic in the olive oil, Brown it. Don’t burn it and then add onions and tomatoes and sweat them down. Cut the chicken into cubes and brown them. Let them get a good sear on all sides. Salt liberally and add the red pepper and wine.
While all this is going on, bring your salted pasta water to a boil. Now, I did use a frozen bag of mixed vegetables just because they are easier, but naturally fresh is best. Add them to the chicken just before you put the macaroni into the pot. Let them cook like that so they will be done at the same time. Save some of the pasta water just in case it looks too dry. Pour the vegetables over the pasta, mix it up real good and let it sit for a few minutes. Serve with a good, dry Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon.
Now, just a few words here. First of all, please, and I can’t say this often enough, use a good pasta like Barilla or DeCecco. Save the store brand pasta for that boxed mac and cheese, or for people you don’t like. Using a good pasta will ensure a better meal. When you know the difference you’ll learn that a good pasta won’t be so starchy as a cheaper brand, nor will it turn to mush if you cook it too long. Pasta should be “al dente,” or firm with a flavor all its own. For this, I used a penne rigatti that looks pretty in the bowl and mixes well with the other ingredients. Also, do let the finished product sit for a few minutes before serving. This will enable the macaroni to absorb some of the goodness of the sauce, the olive oil, the vegetables and the meat. Adding the wine is also a bonus here because a good Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon will add a fresher taste to the sauce, almost like a lemon or citrus taste that goes so well. A glass of it will really bring it home for you! You can even sample some of the wine as you cook!
So there you have it. A pretty simple meal fit for you and your family or for that certain someone in your life. It will look like you slaved over a hot stove all day. But, if you’re okay with that, I’ll never tell. Buon Appetito!!