Although my Mom made this a lot, I have to credit my Dad for making this recipe for Pasta Primavera for the first time. Despite having the status as one of the ‘classic’ pasta sauces, Primavera sauce for Pasta is an American Invention. The origins of Pasta Primavera can indeed be traced back to New York in the 1970’s. My Dad got it from a Pasta Cookbook by Giuliano Hazan, and everyone in our family adopted the recipe ever since because it is so incredibly good. I made this on Friday night.
A common mistake in making this is not sautéing the vegetables enough. Do not be afraid of overcooking them here. Whatever dubious virtue there may be in undercooking vegetables, it certainly does not apply to pasta sauces. By cutting the vegetables in tiny pieces and sautéing them thoroughly, you will concentrate their flavour and infuse the cream with it. Done properly, this is a heavenly dish with the rich, sweet flavours of spring.
Ingredients ½ small yellow onion 1 large carrot 1 medium celery stalk 4 tablespoons butter 250g fresh asparagus (canned will not do in this instance) ¾ red sweet pepper 250g baby marrows 250 ml cream 4-5 sprigs flat-leaf Italian parsley Salt Freshly ground black pepper ½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano fettuccini or any ribbon pasta
Method 1. Peel and finely chop the onion. Peel the carrot and cut into ½-inch dice. Wash the celery, trim the top and bottom, and peel the back to remove the tough strings. Cut it into ¼-inch dice. Put the butter in a large heavy bottomed saucepan and place over medium-low heat. Once the butter begins to melt, add the onion, carrot, and celery and sauté until the vegetables begin turn caramel – be patient. 2. Take the asparagus and bend each one at the bottom end till in snaps. It will snap where the woody bottom part and the tender top shoot meets. Discard the woody bottom bits. Blanch the asparagus in rapidly boiling water (with teaspoon salt) for about two minutes 3. Cook the pasta according to instructions on packaging. 4. Wash the baby marrow, trim the ends, and cut into ½-inch dice. Peel the pepper, core it and remove the seeds. Slice into thin strips. 5. When the onion, carrot, and celery are ready, add the baby marrow and peppers. Season generously with salt and pepper and continue sautéing until the baby marrow and peppers are quite tender and lightly browned, about 15 minutes. 6. While the baby marrow and peppers are cooking, finely chop enough parsley to measure 1½ tablespoons. Cut the cooked asparagus into pieces about 2cm long. When the baby marrow and peppers are ready, add the asparagus and sauté for about another minute. Add the cream and parsley and continue cooking until the cream has thickened and reduced by almost half. 8. When the pasta is done, drain it well, toss with the sauce and the freshly grated parmesan cheese and serve at once. Serve with extra parmesan.