In Spanish, primavera denotes the season of spring. Pasta Primavera with fresh vegetables, cream and cheese is attributed to a preparation made by Serio Maccioni, then co-owner of the venerable Le Cirque restaurant in New York, and his wife, Egidiana, while on a summer trip to Nova Scotia in 1975.
In 1977, Craig Claiborne and Pierre Franey published a version of the Le Cirque dish in the New York Times and praised Pasta Primavera as one of the most significant dishes in New York. The dish was a forerunner of modern, farm-to-table American cuisine and has been deservedly featured in Saveur magazine as one of 150 classic recipes.
I make this dish once or twice each year – once in the spring and maybe again in the summer. This is the springtime edition. It features what is fresh in the local market during April. Included are large Delta asparagus, mushrooms, English shelling peas, small fingerling potatoes (also from the Delta) and red spring onions.
Ingredients such as the tomatoes, onions and mushrooms are quickly sautéed and set aside until needed. Others, including the asparagus, peas and potatoes are blanched, or cooked in water before being combined with the sautéed items, broth and a little bit of heavy cream. This recipe is for two with leftovers.
- 2 cups grape tomatoes sliced in half lengthwise
- 4 tablespoons everyday olive oil
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 cup mushrooms trimmed
- 1 clove garlic coarsely chopped
- 2 tablespoons pine nuts
- 1 cup red spring onions sliced into 1/8” rounds.
- 2 cups shelled English peas
- 2 cups of fresh asparagus stalks trimmed and cut into 1/8’ diagonal slices
- 2 cups young fingerling potatoes sliced into 1/8” rounds
- 2 cups homemade broth, or a combination of low sodium purchased chicken and vegetable broth
- ¼ cup heavy cream
- ½ cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
- ½ pound fettuccine pasta
- Salt and ground pepper to taste
- Sauté grape tomatoes in 2 tablespoons olive oil for 5 minutes on medium heat, or until the tomatoes remain firm but begin releasing juices. Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove from pan and set aside.
- Place a sauté pan over medium high heat. Add 1 tablespoon each of olive oil and butter. When the oil and butter are hot, add mushrooms, garlic, and pine nuts. Season to taste. Sauté for three to five minutes or until the mushrooms soften, and brown. Remove mushrooms from the pan and set aside.
- Sauté onion slices in 2 tablespoons olive oil for about 5 minutes. Season to taste and set aside.
- Cook the English peas in salted, boiling water for 5 to 7 minutes, or until tender. Using a handheld strainer, remove the peas from the boiling water and place in ice water to stop the cooking process. When cooled, remove from the ice water and set aside.
- Blanch the asparagus for 3 minutes or until tender crisp. Cool in ice water and set aside.
- Cook the potatoes in salted, boiling water for 10 minutes (depending on size) or until easily penetrated with a sharp blade but not soft or mushy. Remove to cool in ice water then set aside.
- Cook fettuccine in salted, boiling water according to package directions.
- Place a sauté pan over medium heat. Add 2 cups of broth. When the broth is heated, add all vegetable ingredients except the tomatoes. Cook for about 5 minutes. Add heavy cream and cook for 1 minute more. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed.
- Add the cooked pasta to the sauté pan and toss with the vegetables. Cook for 2 additional minutes. Sprinkle 1/2 cup of the grated Parmesan over the pasta and toss to combine. Divide onto individual serving plates and top with reserved tomatoes.