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For a dish that’s become the “easy” pasta to make, this recipe is pretty goddamn hard. Let me explain.
Pasta Primavera, contrary to popular belief, is not some age-old Italian recipe.
It was created circa 1975 by this guy Sirio Maccioni, owner and Maitre D’ of Le Cirque, one of NYC’s first and fanciest french restaurants.
Legend has it, he was in a Canadian hunting lodge, playing host to either an Italian baron and his retinue or a slew of modern day gourmands. Either way, the pressure was on when his guests asked him for a break from the wild boar and fresh-caught salmon they’d been suffering through for days. They asked him to make a pasta dish. Taste of home. Whatever.
Sirio agreed and then realized he was shit out of luck. It was spring in Canada and there was nary a tomato in sight. His wife saved him from a complete mental meltdown and together they cleaned out the fridge and used what seems to be every vegetable they could find to concoct what Sirio claimed was called “Pasta Primavera.” You know. Spring. Because veggies. Whatever.
It was such a hit, he decided to start serving it at Le Cirque. Except that his fancy french chef wouldn’t deign to cook a measly Italian pasta dish in his fancy French kitchen. Avoiding confrontation in a very Italian way, Sirio decided fuck it, he’d do it himself, tableside. It’d give him something to do while schmoozing with the likes of Sofia Loren and every president from Nixon to Trump (gag.)
So it must be easy, this whole thing, right? I mean if you can put it together on a burner next to a table full of NYC Bourgeoisie, how hard could it be?
Turns out, really freaking hard. And it was 100% a fact that most of the scuttwork involving blanching every single type of veggie separately was done by some poor schmuck a dank ass hallways next to the kitchen. All Sirio had to do was toss a load of stuff in a pan at the end.
Must have been worth it, though, because this dish caught on like wildfire. Everyone asked for it and then every copied it. Sort of.
I mean, as I said, it’s a huge pain in the ass. 16 different ingredients, 10 steps and multiple skills just to make a plate of meatless pasta.
So the inevitable degradation of the thing began until what was once a subtle, balanced dish full of fresh veg and a enrobed in a perfect cream sauce became the sludge and mush that you can find in any freezer aisle or bastard versions being puked out by the likes of Giada. Seriously, her interns were working through a serious hangover the day they came up with her roasted vegetable and Farfalle version. What’s everyone’s obsession with Farfalle anyway?
Moving on. This kind of cost cutting, timesaving bullshit is why Pasta Primavera has gotten such a bad rap. My grandmother would never let me order it out. She’s hiss something about paying too much for pasta and insist I’d get something that couldn’t easily be made at home.
And she was right. The shit that gets shilled as Primavera rarely has anything to do with the actual original recipe. It’s usually some cheese laden pile of overcooked noodles and sadness.
This version, the one you see here, isn’t that. This is the version that DOESN’T suck. It’s the version that Craig Claiborn recorded in the NYT Food section back in the day. It’s amazing. The only thing I changed was the type of pasta because I seriously believe that a cream sauce goes best with linguini or fettuccini, rather than spaghetti. Wanna fight about it? Be my guest. Tell me who wins 😉
The Original Pasta Primavera RecipeCourse: MainCuisine: ItalianDifficulty: Difficult
This is an amazing recipe as long as you don’t stress out too much. I purposefully didn’t give metric measurements because you shouldn’t use them. Eyeball this stuff. It was originally a fridge-clean-out dish. Don’t overthink it 😀
1 bunch broccoli, cut into small florets.
2 small zuchinni, cubed
4 asparagus spears, cut into quarter inch pieces
1/2 cup frozen peas
3/4 cup sugar snap peas, deveined
1 tbsp olive oil
2 cups baby bella mushrooms, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon fresh red or green chilis, minced
1/4 cup parsley, minced
6 TBSP olive oil
1 tsp garlic, minced
3 cups tomatoes, cubed
6 fresh basil leaves
1 lb linguini or fettuccini, cooked al dente and drained
4 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp chicken broth
1/2 cup heavy cream
2/3 cup grated parmesan
1/3 cup toasted pine nuts
- Blanch the broccoli, zucchini, asparagus, green beans, peas and sugar snap peas individually in salted water until the come “crisp-tender” and then dunk them in cold water to stop the cooking process and drain thoroughly. Wish for death because this is tedious. Set aside.
- Add olive oil to a pan and sauté mushrooms on medium high heat with salt and pepper to taste until lightly cooked. Set Aside.
- Add olive oil and garlic to a pan and bring heat up to medium. Toss in tomatoes and basil and cook briefly. Set Aside.
- Add butter and remaining garlic to a very large pan and bring to a simmer. Add the heavy cream, parmesan and chicken stock and stir until smooth.
- Toss the pasta in the cream sauce.
- Add half the vegetables and toss to coat.
- Add the mushrooms and toss to distribute.
- Add the other half of the vegetables and heat through, tossing to evenly distribute.
- Add the toasted pine nuts, season with salt and pepper and give one final toss.
- Plate immediately and top with the tomatoes and basil.