Pasta primavera, which means “springtime pasta,” is an American invention—at least as American as, say, fettuccine Alfredo. It first appeared on the menu at Le Cirque in the 1970s, and Sirio Maccioni, that restaurant’s owner, was quoted in 1991 in the New York Times saying, “It seemed like a good idea and people still like it.”
Maccioni passed away a few weeks ago, so I figured it might be nice to honor him with a little primavera. Plus, we've been cooped up cooking from our pantries and freezers for months, and could frankly use a little freshness and hope in our lives and in our kitchens. And what's more fresh and hopeful than a bowl of pasta overflowing with the best vegetables this season has to offer?
Of course, "traditional" pasta primavera is not such a peppy dish. Yes, it's full of vegetables, but those vegetables are smothered so heavily in cream that it's basically impossible to taste them. That's not what springtime is all about. So, below are eight different takes on pasta primavera in which the vegetables themselves take center stage. They are made more in the traditional Italian way—simply, and in a skillet—with just enough additional ingredients to heighten the flavors of the dish. There are universal instructions for cooking the pasta (use whatever shape you like), which you can then toss with any of these sauce combinations:
Peas, Pecorino, Chile, and Mint
Carrots, Ricotta, and Ricotta Salata
Dandelion Greens and Smoked Sausage
Favas, Watercress, and Brown Butter
Butter-Braised Turnips and Sage
Carbonara with Leeks
Chard and Roasted New Potatoes
I know that these past few months have been a difficult stretch when it comes to procuring ingredients, but between supermarkets, socially-distanced farmer's markets, CSAs, and any number of small- and large-scale grocery delivery operations, delicious spring vegetables are out there. So, if you can get your hands on some, primavera is definitely, as Maccioni put it, "a good idea."
Talk To Me, Goose!
Questions, comments, brilliant suggestions? Just want to share the recipe for your grandma's potato salad, or your mom's meatloaf, or your uncle Drew's three-day 100-percent rye loaf (yes, please)? Don't hesitate to reach out anytime.