Thursday, April 2, 2015

Spring Green Vegetable Pasta Primavera

Springtime is the perfect time to go back to nature and start eating fresher. In many cities, Farmer's Markets are opening as the weather warms and early spring produce is abundant. To celebrate the season, I created a verdant pasta primavera with all things green and in season right now. I chose a combination of vegetables that I knew my family is willing to eat (kale and snap peas). I also added a vegetable that always gets mixed reviews (cauliflower) and introduced a new vegetable to all (fava beans). Pairing this quartet of green vegetables with something I know everyone in my family will eat (pasta) guaranteed no one would turn their nose up and whine about not wanting to eat.

I'll admit that my children can be picky. When I first met my older kids 5 years ago, they would not touch zucchini, or bell peppers, or a number of other vegetables that they readily will eat today. Did you know that it can take up to 10 times of a child trying one new food to adjust to a new taste or texture? Children's palettes are constantly adjusting, and its not always a flavor or texture thing, sometimes they are in an uncooperative mood, there is an even number of peas on their plate, the clouds are covering the sun, etc.

As a parent, I used to take their defiance for not eating vegetables personally. I knew that I had cooked them properly, seasoned them well, used my culinary knowledge to make the food palatable, and still they wouldn't eat it. The more I fought back, the less they would eat. So instead of forcing or demanding that foods be eaten, I just keep serving them. Not all the time, and not always the same ones over and over again. The more they are exposed to a certain vegetable, the more likely they are to try it, and sometimes, they might actually like it!

Here is a quick breakdown of the vegetables I chose for my Green Vegetable Pasta Primavera. As with any stir-fry or mixed vegetable pasta dish, feel free to customize your selection of vegetable to what is readily available for you, or you can find sourced locally or organically (if that is what your food philosophy entails), or by what your family likes to eat.

Kale is a year-round green in most temperate climates, but turns bitter in hotter weather. Spring kale is wonderfully mild and provides a hearty backbone to softer spring vegetables. Kale stands up to sautéing, and adding into soups and stews. Family not big kale eaters? Try Swiss chard or baby spinach.

In early spring, cauliflower is still abundant. You can find it in white, green, yellow, and purple varieties, and does well steamed or roasted. The colors don't really affect the flavor of the cauliflower, so I went with green for aesthetics. Family not big cauliflower eaters? Try broccoli.

Fava Beans
An iconic spring vegetable. At the Farmer's Market, look for firm pods that feel soft or at least smooth on the side. You can also check for already shelled fava beans in your supermarket's frozen section. Can't find fava beans? Try edamame or another seasonal favorite like asparagus.

Snap Peas
I love how sweet these little lovelies are! Also known as sugar snap peas, these pea pods can be eaten whole, either raw or lightly steamed. Snap peas grow well in small gardens, and can be trained vertically on a trellis.

Spring Green Vegetable Pasta Primavera
For the pasta and sauce
  • ½ pound (½ package) Linguine pasta
  • olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic - sliced
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup pasta water - reserved
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • ⅓ cup Pecorino Romano cheese, grated, plus more for garnishing
Vegetables - Pick any of your favorites
  • Fava beans, edamame, garden peas (shelled) - 1 cup
  • Sugar snap peas, snow peas - 1 cup
  • Cauliflower, broccoli - 1 head, cut into florets
  • Asparagus (tips and tender stalks) - 1 bunch
  • Kale (ribs removed), swiss chard - 1 bunch cut into ribbons
  • Spinach, arugula or other baby greens - about 3 cups (will wilt down to about 1 cup)

  1. Blanch and shock vegetables until crisp-tender and bright green (2-3 minutes per). Alternatively, toss the vegetables, except for leafy greens into the boiling pasta water for the last 2 minutes.
  2. Boil pasta according to package directions, just to al dente.
  3. Heat a large saute pan over medium low heat with about 2 Tbsp olive oil.
  4. Saute garlic for 1 minute, until fragrant and translucent. Add wine and reduce by half. Let any leafy greens (kale, spinach, chard) wilt down in the pan, then add cream. Season to taste.
  5. Toss pasta and veggies with sauce, add reserved pasta water to create a sauce coating all the pasta.
  6. Add cheese and toss, then serve immediately. Top with extra cheese if desired.

I hope you enjoy the bounty of springtime with this recipe! What are your favorite springtime vegetables?
I love seeing your creations - feel free to share!



1 comment:

  1. This looks so delicious and refreshing! I'm really looking forward to dandelion season... I love the leaves in salad!


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