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ounces uncooked fettuccine or linguine
tablespoon olive or vegetable oil
medium carrots, thinly sliced (1 cup)
cup frozen green peas, rinsed to separate
small onion, chopped (1/4 cup)
container (10 ounces) refrigerated Alfredo pasta sauce
tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
Cook fettuccine as directed on package.
While fettuccine is cooking, heat oil in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Cook broccoli, cauliflowerets, carrots, peas and onion in oil 6 to 8 minutes, stirring frequently, until vegetables are crisp-tender.
Stir in Alfredo sauce; heat through. Drain fettuccine. Stir fettuccine into sauce mixture; heat through. Sprinkle with cheese.
More About This Recipe
- With a vegetable pasta salad as simple as this, your kitchen won't hold you hostage while summer passes by.
“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it.”
Oh Ferris. So full of wisdom.
I’m pretty sure that on “days off” like his, or the all-too-often crazy days when my calendar hardly leaves any time for cooking, a delicious 15-minute meal like this pasta primavera would be JUST the ticket!
This Pasta Primavera recipe pretty much could not be easier. Betty Crocker’s Creamy Parmesan Pasta Suddenly Salad mixes with Valley Fresh Steamers do all of the work for you. Just follow the directions, and within 15 minutes, you can have a delicious pasta dish overflowing with fresh steamed vegetables ready to enjoy.
It is so simple and quick, you’ll definitely have time to go and save Ferris.
Here we go:
Like I said…just these ingredients (plus the mayo called for in the Suddenly Salad).
Steam the veggies while you cook the pasta, then mix ‘er up!
Look at all of those colorful veggies! That’s pasta prrrrrrimavera, baby!
Ali loves music and fun food! Check out her great stuff at her blog site, Gimme Some Oven, and her Tablespoon profile -- and keep watching Quick Dish to see what colorful, nommy recipes she dreams up next!
How To Make One-Pot Pasta Primavera
Where once I’d pounce on a chef-made bowl of al dente pasta and crisp-tender spring vegetables, now it’s a dish I prefer to make at home. Using what’s fresh and new at the market, I slice and dice carrots, bell peppers, peas, spring onions, and baby Broccolini before tossing them into a pot to quickly cook with penne pasta.
Finished with bright and citrusy lemon butter and a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese, this warm-weather supper is perfection. And the best part? I can enjoy it from the comfort of my own porch — no restaurant required.
Grab the ingredients for this pasta primavera recipe
This pasta primavera recipe calls for rotini pasta, olive oil, minced garlic, asparagus, yellow squash, zucchini, grape tomatoes, red wine vinegar, red pepper flakes, shredded Parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, and basil leaves. This quick-fix dish only takes 15 minutes to prepare and 15 minutes to cook, making it perfect for those busy evenings or after a late night working. It makes six to eight servings, so it's great for a family or perfect for a couple with leftovers for lunch. Just plan ahead by purchasing the veggies in advance and have the pasta and other ingredients ready at home.
This classic pasta dish is made with a colorful array of sautéed vegetables in a light Parmesan lemon sauce. Primavera, actually means "springtime" in Italian and this is a great pasta recipe that features bright vegetables found in the spring and early summer. This quick and easy dinner may have a long ingredient list, but it can still be served up in about 30 minutes.
What is Pasta Primavera?
Pasta Primavera is a classic pasta dish. When I say “classic”, I’m not referring to classic French or even Italian cuisine, but an American classic that has been around for roughly 50 years. It is first thought to have appeared in New York in the late 1970s, but its name certainly sounds Italian. Primavera actually means “springtime” in Italian and the pasta is made with fresh vegetables that come appear in the spring and early summer.
Start with Good Pasta
Any good pasta dish starts with the best pasta and yes, the brand of pasta you use does make a difference. Ideally, you want to use a pasta that uses a high quality semolina flour. The challenge is knowing what quality semolina is used by different brands. For a few tips on how to choose a good pasta brand, click here.
The Best Ingredients
There are so many delicious vegetables available for pasta primavera and there are no limitations on what you can use. Just go to the market and get whatever looks fresh and ripe. There is also no set number of vegetables to use for pasta primavera. If there’s a vegetable in the recipe that you don’t particularly like, leave it out or substitute more of another vegetable that you do like. In general, you want about 5 cups of vegetables, no matter what they are.
Tips for Cutting Vegetables
When you cut the vegetables, do try to keep them consistent in size – slice all the carrots evenly, dice the peppers evenly, make the broccoli florets an even size. You get the gist. You can see how to properly slice onions here and how to easily dice peppers here. Making sure the vegetables are cut uniformly means that they will cook uniformly too.
Light Cream Sauce
The cream sauce for this version of pasta primavera is so light that it’s almost unfair to call it a sauce at all! Think of it as a moistening for the pasta and vegetables. It needs to be just enough to hold everything together and help the flavors blend. If you want a creamier sauce, take a look at my Fetuccine Alfredo sauce and make Alfredo sauce to toss over the pasta and vegetables instead.
Chicken Pasta Primavera
Pasta Primavera can be made vegetarian (use vegetable stock instead of chicken stock) or you can add some chicken for a little added protein. Just sauté the chicken in the skillet and set it aside to cook the vegetables. Then, toss everything back together at the end. You can even use leftover chicken if you have some – heat it through thoroughly in the skillet with the vegetables.
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 3/4 cups Swanson® Natural Goodness® Chicken Broth
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves, crushed
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 cups broccoliflorets
- 2 medium carrot, sliced (about 1 cup)
- 1 medium onion, cut into wedges
- 1 medium tomato, diced (about 1 cup)
- 8 ounces (1/2 of a 1-pound package) thin spaghetti, cooked and drained (about 4 cups)
- 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
Stir the cornstarch and 3/4 cup broth in a small bowl until the mixture is smooth.
Heat the remaining broth, oregano, garlic powder, broccoli, carrots and onion in a 4-quart saucepan over medium heat to a boil. Reduce the heat to low. Cover and cook for 5 minutes or until the vegetables are tender-crisp.
Stir the cornstarch mixture in the saucepan. Cook and stir until the mixture boils and thickens. Stir in the tomato. Add the spaghetti and toss to coat. Sprinkle with the cheese.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken, thinly sliced
- 1 (12 ounce) bag Birds Eye® Recipe Ready Primavera Blend
- 1 cup prepared Alfredo pasta sauce
- 8 ounces fettuccine, cooked according to package directions
Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat and cook chicken, stirring occasionally, 8 minutes or until almost done. Remove chicken from pan.
Add Recipe Ready Primavera Blend and cook, stirring frequently, 5 minutes or until just tender. Stir in pasta sauce and bring to a boil. Add fettuccine and chicken and toss to coat.* Serve, if desired, with additional parmesan cheese and season with black pepper.
*Cook chicken to an internal temperature of 165 degrees F as measured with a food thermometer.
The Best Pasta for Pasta Primavera
My mother made her primavera with angel hair pasta, which is a gossamer version of spaghetti that cooks in seconds. It has a lovely mouthfeel and really does make the cream and cheese feel lighter when you eat it.
But, angel hair congeals into a gob in minutes, so don’t make the pasta until the sauce is done, and don’t wait to serve it – the angel hair must go from pot to plate at once.
Angel hair, also called capellini, is readily available in most supermarkets. Can you use regular old spaghetti? You bet. That’s what they used at Le Cirque, after all.
The Pasta Primavera You've Always Wanted: Lighter, Greener, Springier
I find it very hard to imagine that prior to 1975, nobody in the history of the universe had thought to combine fresh spring vegetables and pasta in a creamy sauce, but, if we are to believe Sirio Maccioni, chef of New York's famed Le Cirque, it's the truth. At least, nobody famous enough to take a good idea and turn it into an international sensation. Sirio put it on the menu, and pasta primavera—"spring pasta"—quickly became part of our cultural lexicon.
Since then, pasta primavera has become a staple menu item across the spectrum of restaurants, from fancy places using handmade pasta and seasonal spring vegetables to chains that serve it year-round alongside bottomless baskets of breadsticks.
The original Le Cirque version of the dish is a complicated affair, as all fancy restaurant food tends to be. I've found two printed versions online. This one was first published in 1977, in a Craig Claiborne article for the New York Times, and presumably it's how the dish was first introduced to the greater public. In 1991, Florence Fabricant published another version that's even more complicated, requiring a half dozen different pots and pans to complete. Ah, the old days, back when a newspaper's idea of "adapting" a restaurant recipe for a home cook was translating the Italian into English.
Both versions contain spring vegetables, along with mushrooms, garlic, tomatoes, basil, cheese, and cream, plus some toasted pine nuts. I made a sort of hybridized version of the Le Cirque dish, and found that I actually wasn't particularly enamored of it. I did really love the idea of pine nuts, which are not common in other popular, modern recipes. Tomatoes seemed out of place in a spring dish, and I thought the mushrooms, while tasty, distracted a bit from the green vegetables. My version would have to be a little simpler and cleaner.
At the opposite extreme, copycat recipes for chain restaurant–style pasta primavera are simple enough (typically one- or two-pot dishes), but there's absolutely nothing springlike about them, with a jumbled mix of dried herbs, carrots, tomatoes, zucchini, and other anything-but-spring-grown additions.
When I hear "spring," what I really hear is green, you know?
To make a dish that screams spring, I decided to load mine up with all the green vegetables I could find.
Whole English peas and fava beans, short lengths of asparagus, trimmed snap peas, and young, crunchy broccolini were what I found at the market, though fiddleheads, fresh garbanzos, and snow peas could easily have fit in as well. I prepared all the vegetables according to my guide: blanched them in a pot of salted water, then shocked them in an ice bath before carefully drying them on paper towels. I found that blanching produced a better, fresher flavor in the finished dish than sautéing the vegetables did, and, as we've discovered in the past, most of the tried-and-true rules of big-pot blanching bear out in testing.
Once the vegetables were blanched, I dumped out the pot and refilled it with fresh water to cook my pasta. It's possible to cook the pasta right in the same pot without changing the water, but if you do that, the pigments released by the vegetables cause the pasta to come out dull in color. With a dish like this, bright colors are just as important as intense flavors.
For the sauce, I wanted a touch of garlic flavor, but not the overload you get from adding actual minced garlic to the dish. Instead, I smashed a couple of cloves of garlic with the side of my knife, then gently cooked them in butter to infuse it, discarding the actual cloves before adding the pasta and vegetables. In order to streamline the process, I also added the pine nuts directly to the pot with the garlic, toasting them lightly as the garlic infused. I was a little worried that the butter would brown before the nuts could toast properly, but it all worked out just fine in multiple tests, provided I stirred and kept things moving.
As the garlic and pine nuts finished toasting, I cooked up my pasta. This recipe works fine with dried pasta, but I prefer the chewier texture of fresh egg pasta here. Traditionally, long, thin noodles are the pasta of choice for pasta primavera, but since all of my vegetables were cut into slender slices, it made much more sense for me to use a pasta of similar length and width. Penne, gemelli, and rotini all fit the bill. (Though, honestly, use whatever you like. Nobody's gonna stop you.)
I know that pasta primavera is supposed to have a rich, cream-based sauce, but no matter how much I adjusted the ratios of cream and cheese, I couldn't get over the fact that the bright spring vegetables felt smothered and muted when served with a creamy sauce. The revelation came when I looked at a more modern New York Times recipe from Melissa Clark, which uses crème fraîche in place of heavy cream.
I tossed the pasta and vegetables with the garlic butter, pine nuts, crème fraîche, and some reserved pasta water until everything was nice and creamy.
The tangy acidity of crème fraîche, paired with a shot of lemon juice and a little lemon zest, provided the same creamy, pasta-coating consistency that you'd get from heavy cream, but with a flavor that complemented, rather than muted, the bright vegetables. The only other thing the dish needed was a handful of chopped fresh parsley and basil, and a shower of Parmigiano-Reggiano added off heat.
For a dish with a history of less than half a century, it sure tastes like it was always meant to be. Can you think of anything you'd rather eat on a warm May evening? Nothing. springs to mind.
First, prep the vegetables. Chop the broccoli into bite-sized pieces, about 1 to 1 ½ cups worth. Dice half a yellow onion. Chop 3 to 4 cloves of garlic. Slice carrots on the bias (diagonally), and do the same for the zucchini and yellow squash. Roughly slice the mushrooms and slice the red pepper (seeded) into strips.
Heat 2 tablespoons butter with 2 tablespoons olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chopped onion and garlic together and cook for a minute or two, until they start to turn translucent. Then throw in the broccoli. Stir, and add in the carrots.
Stir it around, and PLEASE, PLEASE cook it for only a minute, tops. Transfer the mixture to a plate. Add in the red pepper strips to the skillet. Stir them around for a minute or so, then transfer them to the plate.
Add pasta to slightly salted boiling water and cook to al dente.
Add a tablespoon of butter to the skillet. Add squash and zucchini, cook for less than a minute, then transfer to plate. Cook mushrooms for a minute or two (add salt to taste), and again transfer to the plate.
To make the sauce, pour ¼ to ½ cup dry white wine into the skillet (see note below). Add ½ cup low-sodium chicken broth, a tablespoon of butter and scrape the bottom of the skillet to pull up the flavor left behind by the veggie cooking. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes until the liquid starts to thicken.
Add 1 cup whipping cream and 1 cup half-and-half. Measure out ½ cup grated Parmesan add to the skillet. Add salt and pepper to taste. Chiffonade 5 to 6 fresh basil leaves and add that to the sauce stir.
Dump veggies and mushrooms into the sauce along with ½ cup frozen peas right out of the freezer. Add pasta al dente and stir. If the sauce seems a little thick, or if there doesn&rsquot seem to be enough sauce, add a good splash of chicken broth and a little more half-and-half. Top with more Parmesan, salt, pepper, and basil to taste.
Note: if you&rsquore averse to wine, add chicken broth instead. But watch the salt later.
Chick Food Alert: This one&rsquos for the ladies, gentlemen. I say that because, well, there&rsquos no meat in it. And I know there are some of you Renaissance Men out there who are not above eating a dinner wholly devoid of animal flesh, but I sure don&rsquot know any of you. So for my life, this dish is poised right at the top of my list of "Chick Foods", which means I won&rsquot make it unless Marlboro Man is in China for the week.
It&rsquos Pasta Primavera, which translates to "Spring Pasta" in English, and the classic dish uses a mixture of bright green vegetables mixed with pasta. As I sit typing this post in 97-degree weather, I&rsquom well aware that it&rsquos no longer spring. And really, since many of the vegetables used in my recipe don&rsquot become ripe in my garden until at least the middle of July, "Spring Pasta" really isn&rsquot a fitting name at all. Is there a Pasta Naming Coalition who can hear my complaint? Is there a form I can fill out? It&rsquos just that I believe calling it Pasta Primavera is really dishonest. So is my suggestion that any of these vegetables came from my garden, because they didn&rsquot.
But enough of my issues, let&rsquos get on to the dish itself! I&rsquove been cooking this very recipe for twenty years. Twenty years. That&rsquos longer than I&rsquove been married, had children, and American Idol has been on the air. I remember sitting around my parents&rsquo living room my senior year in high school, flipping through my mom&rsquos Bon Apetit magazine as I was wont to do on the nights I was grounded, which was pretty often. I found a recipe for Pasta Primavera, which I&rsquod never heard of before, and spent the rest of the evening whipping it up for my parents. It was so delicious, they ungrounded me right there on the spot. Then I went out and got arrested.
Not really, as far as you know. But the pasta really, really was delicious and provided a wonderful basis for the version I make today. Over the years I&rsquove played with the recipe a lot, and have finally reached a Pasta Primavera Nirvana&mdasha goal to which every self-respecting pasta lover should aspire. The key lies more in the method than the ingredients indeed, using your own personal blend of favorite veggies is part of the fun of this dish. I figured out that it&rsquos best to cook the vegetables in separate batches, and to cook them only very slightly at first. Then later, when you add them to the creamy, flavorful sauce, you&rsquoll have a little wiggle room to adjust the thickness and seasonings without overcooking them. If you cook them all together, then create the sauce in the same pan, the veggies will invariably overcook and become soggy and lifeless. The method I&rsquove figured out ensures a perfectly flavorful sauce and perfectly al dente vegetables, which is the secret to perfect Pasta Primavera. Let&rsquos go for it!
The Cast of Characters: Zucchini, Yellow Squash, Onion, Garlic, Broccoli, Carrots, Mushrooms, Red Bell Pepper, Frozen Peas, Buter, Whipping (Heavy) Cream, Half-and-Half, and Parmesan. (Oh, and sliced green onions if you like, but I forgot to add them today. Either way, it&rsquos still delish.)
Oh, and a glass of dry white wine (optional).
Start with the broccoli: get a big chunk or two&hellip
Then begin cutting it into smaller pieces.
Then cut off the stems, but you&rsquoll want to leave them in the dish.
Now you should have a good cup to cup-and-a-half of bite-sized broccoli pieces.
&hellipAnd cut it in half from top to bottom.
Peel away the outer layer&hellip
Then rotate it 90 degrees and slice down to dice. I like to dice the onion pretty finely.
Now take the garlic bulb and remove three or four cloves.
With a heavy jar or can, smash each clove&hellip
And peel away the papery layer.
Now peel two medium/large carrots.
And slice them on the bias (diagonal).
Now take two zucchini and slice them on the bias, too.
I love zucchini. There&rsquos something about it that makes me want to sculpt.
Now get your mushrooms. I usually use white button mushrooms, but I thought these baby porcinis looked interesting.
I love mushrooms. I mean, LOVE. There&rsquos something about them that makes me want to play Beethoven&rsquos Ninth on a ukulele.
Slice &rsquoem up roughly. No need to be precise.
I also like to use yellow squash, but you don&rsquot have to if they scare the living daylights out of you. They used to scare me when I was nine. At night I&rsquod wake up screaming if they ever entered my dreams.
The pile of veggies is really beginning to grow! We&rsquore running out of cutting board space.
Now take the lovely, vibrant red pepper.
Slice off the bottom, and either pull or cut out the core.
If you&rsquore bored, you could always throw this on your wrist, wear it as a bangle, and go paint the town red for awhile. (Oh, and that&rsquos porcini mushroom under my fingernail&hellipnot manure.)
Now just cut the pepper in half (from top to bottom) and slice it into strips.
I don&rsquot know about you, but I&rsquom tired of cutting vegetables. Let&rsquos get down to the cookin&rsquo!
Now heat 2 tablespoons butter with 2 tablespoons olive oil in a medium-high skillet.
Now. Important stuff here. I believe the key to perfect Pasta Primavera is the vegetables not becoming overcooked. In years past, I&rsquod typically throw all the vegetables into the skillet together, cook them thoroughly (read: too long), then actually cook the sauce in the pan with the veggies, which would only add to their cooking time. By the end, though the flavor way great, the vegetables would be flaccid and lifeless. And I&rsquod beat myself over the head with a tenderizing mallet.
So what we&rsquore going to do is cook the vegetables every so slightly in batches.
Start by adding the chopped onion and garlic together.
Cook for a minute or two, until they start to turn translucent.
Now throw in the broccoli.
And add in the carrots. Stir it around, and PLEASE, PLEASE cook it for only a minute, tops. The key here is not to cook the vegetables thoroughly, but just to warm them and get them coated in butter/oil.
After you&rsquove cooked them for a minute, transfer mixture to a plate.
Now add in the red pepper strips. Stir them around for a minute or so, then transfer them to the plate.
Now&rsquos a good time to cook the pasta. I like penne, but linguini&rsquos great, too.
Dump it in slightly salted, boiling water&hellipand let&rsquos get back to the veggies.
The skillet&rsquos looking a little dry and lonely, so why dontcha just go ahead and add a tablespoon of butter? A tablespoon of butter covers a multitude of sins.
Now add in the zucchini and squash.
You definitely don&rsquot want to overcook this&hellipless than a minute is probably fine.
I&rsquom deathly afraid of overcooking my Pasta Primavera vegetables. I&rsquove seriously got to get a life.
Remove the zucchini/squash, and add the &lsquoshrooms to the pan.
I add a little salt to these. Don&rsquot ask me why because I rarely have a good reason for doing things. Go ahead and cook the mushrooms a minute or two, as you don&rsquot have to be concerned about keeping them "crisp." Ain&rsquot gonna happen.
Just look at your lovely plate of undercooked, crispy, definitely-not-overcooked veggies! Now&rsquos the fun part: making the creamy sauce.
Into the empty skillet, pour 1/4 to 1/2 cup dry white wine. Mmmmm&hellipthere&rsquos no greater smell in the world than that stuff hitting the pan.
Now add about 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth. (If you&rsquore averse to wine, go ahead and add a whole cup of chicken broth. But watch the salt later.
Stir in a tablespoon or so of butter.
Now you need to scrape the bottom of the pan. I love this flat whisk&hellip
Isn&rsquot it groovy? Any whisk will do, though.
Now, stir around, scraping the flavorful dark bits off the bottom of the pan. This&rsquoll really add some character to the sauce.
Cook for a minute or two, until liquid starts to thicken.
Now add 1 cup whipping (heavy) cream. Oh, live a little. You can get on the Stairmaster later.
Now add 1 cup half-and-half. See? I could have used all cream, but I wanted to be health conscious.
Now take 5 or 6 fresh basil leaves.
We need to chiffonade the basil. Start by rolling the leaves into a somewhat tight ball, then make thin slices.
Hey! You just chiffonadedededed basil leaves. Your life is complete.
Now add a nice helping (about 1/2 cup) grated Parmesan.
Now taste the sauce and add salt to taste. Also, add black pepper. Fresh ground is best, but not mandatory, for Pete&rsquos sake.
Really go for it with the pepper. It belongs in this sauce.
And stir it in. The basil rrrrrrrrreally makes this dish, so don&rsquot be bashful.
Now dump in all the veggies&hellip
And go ahead and dump in about 1/2 cup frozen peas right out of the freezer.
Now dump in the al dente (not overcooked still has bite) pasta.
And stirrrrrrr together. Oh, geez, I&rsquom getting hungry.
Now, if the sauce seems a little thick, or if there doesn&rsquot seem to be enough sauce, go ahead and add a good splash of chicken broth&hellipand oh, what the heck. How &rsquobout a little more half-and-half?
Oh, and a little more Parmesan wouldn&rsquot hurt.
A little more salt & pepper, and we&rsquore talking&hellipperfection.
To serve it, I like to dump it onto a big platter.
There should be some sauce collecting around the edges.
I like to throw some more chiffonade of basil all over the top, because I&rsquom a middle child.
Here&rsquos a close-up look at the freaky, delicious, ridiculous sauce.
Now go forth and make this Pasta Primavera! Your sensory receptors will never be the same.
And if any of you men try it, I want to hear from you. I need to believe.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta according to package directions until al dente.
Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic to the pan and cook until lightly browned, about 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Season the onions and garlic with oregano, pepper, salt and crushed red pepper. Add vegetables to pan and sauté for 4 more minutes until the vegetables are tender.
Stir in lemon juice and zest and cook until liquid has evaporated, about 2 minutes. Pour in cream bring to a boil. Cook until the cream is reduced, sauce is thickened and clings to the vegetables, about 5 minutes.
Once the cream begins to thicken, add in the butter and continually stir until the butter melts into the sauce. Stir in cheeses until melted.
Drain pasta and stir into the vegetables and sauce. Remove from heat and garnish with fresh basil, if desired.
Choose any Birds Eye® vegetable blend that you have on hand—California Blend, Normandy Blend, or Broccoli stir fry blends make great substitutes. If you don’t have asiago cheese, use 1/2 cup Parmesan