Monday, 19 May 2014

Pasta Primavera

A little while back we were invited to a housewarming populated by People With Opinions. On just about anything going on in any society. Apart from the hostess I didn't know anyone there. I happened to overhear a conversation about food and felt immediately relieved: surely that's a conversation even I can contribute to? More than discourse on Israeli foreign policies and desertification in Easter Africa anyway. But no. Wrong I was. 

They demanded "optimizing the cultivation of seaweed" and raved about how "raw food is just the best thing around". Sure, that might be true. But for someone who'd just feasted on pulled lamb and had spend the previous 3 hours confiting a pot of duck legs it sounded a bit awkward. As did the following greeting: Hi, can I get you something to eat? Oh, and WE DON'T SERVE MEAT!". 

I will never be bullied into vegetarianism. But I suppose even I could eat more vegetables... right? And for that Pasta Primavera is just the thing.

As the name ("spring pasta") suggests, this is a celebration of the new harvest. Though one sometimes sees versions with chicken in them too, the focus is always on green veg: peas, zucchini, asparagus. onions, broccoli... When using short pasta such as penne, the veggies get cut into small cubes whereas with longer pasta such as tagliatelle or pappardelle the veggies get sliced into ribbon-like strips too.

Serves 2

1 portion tagliatelle/ pappardelle

1/2 bunch asparagus
1/2 zucchini
100 g peas
1/4 of 125 g box spinach leaves
1/4 tsp nutmeg
2 garlic cloves
2 shallots
1 spring onion (about 2 dl when chopped) or chives
the zest of 1 lemon
the juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 dl Parmesan
1/2 dl Greek yogurt (or mascarpone OR more Parmesan)
salt (carefully, black pepper
1 dl fresh herbs (such as parsley, mint, basil...)

for frying: a little bit of butter

to serve: a handful of toasted pine nuts, Parmesan

Boil pasta according to the instructions on the packet. In the meanwhile peel and slice the veg. Sauté garlic and onion in a bit of butter. Add most of the lemon zest (leave some for decorating) and the lemon juice. Cook for a while and then  add Greek yogurt (and/ or cheese). Season. Steam the veg for instance in a basket over the pot of pasta. Then add them int the pan along with spinach leaves (they literally only take seconds to wilt) and drained pasta. Toss together and finish off with the chopped herbs. Check the taste, season as needed and serve with rest of the lemon zest, some grated Parmesan and toasted pine nuts.




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