Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Pasta Primavera - Do Hotel Chefs Know that "Primavera" Means Spring?

Pasta primavera is quite a straightforward recipe - spaghetti or fettuccine tossed with an array of fresh spring vegetables. When done right, this is one of the year's great seasonal recipes. This looks, smells, and tastes like a cool, sunny spring day.

The thing I can't figure out is how chefs, particularly one running large hotel kitchens, came to call any pasta with vegetables, "pasta primavera." If you order this dish in one of those establishments, you will probably get a plate of pasta, with a heavy cream sauce, some black bits of oxidized basil, and large, undercooked chunks of vegetables, usually of the summer and fall variety.

Unfortunately for many chefs, this recipe serves as a way to clean out the walk-in of past-their-prime vegetables (Mmm…old squash and bel
l peppers), instead of what it should be - a celebration for the return of fresh green veggies.You will see a great "chefs secret" in this video recipe for keeping the basil bright green. In fact, the second photo here shows the leftovers after 24 hours. They are still beautiful, and didn't turn that nasty grey-green-brown hue that affects leftover basil-based sauces.

I like to choose as many different green vegetables as I can get my hands on for this dish. I managed to include seven varieties, and could have added a few more without a problem. I'll admit, this one does take much more slicing and dicing than I usually subject you to, but the effort will be rewarded with a pasta worthy of its name. Enjoy!
 



Ingredients:
1/2 cup olive oil plus 2 tbsps
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1 large leek (dark green parts trimmed off and discarded), chopped, washed thoroughly
2 jalapeno, diced
1 bunch basil
3 cups chicken or vegetable broth
2 cloves garlic
2 green zucchini, diced
1/2 cup freshly shucked peas
1 cup sugar snap peas
1 bunch asparagus, stalks diced, tips left whole
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, or as needed
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
1 pound fettuccine

41 comments:

Anonymous said...

Yes!

Kyle Young said...

"Don't be servin' stuff with schmutz on the edge."

By the way, John... still waitin' on that egg parm recipe you promised two years ago.

Thanks for bein' so hi-culin-arious.

granny said...

Lots of chopping but so worth it. Once you have everything chopped you can put it in the fridge. Always prep my veggies early in the day. Makes things go quickly when dinner time comes and everyone is hungry

Dan said...

This is a great Spring dish. I really wish I could get into the Spring spirit, unfortunately it's still in the 30's here, and it was snowing this morning. I hate Minnesota, you're so lucky to be living where you live, Chef John.
That's OK, I can still make this dish, I'll just have to buy vegetables from your neck of the woods ;)

PeggyO said...

LOL - I'm not surprised that the first video you make, after returning from your trip, required a lot of chopping! It's easy to see you really missed your sharp knives.

Asian Malaysian said...

I wish we had seasons here in Malaysia. Will still try the recipe once Im able to watch it. Vimeo vidoe clips always seem to be a case of touch and go in terms of loading/playing on my computer for some reason or other.

blogagog said...

I have to say that I'm not very impressed with this dish, Chef John. Primavera requires colors, not just green. How about some little pieces of carrots, maybe a yellow or red pepper and a few chunks of tomato for color?

It needs something.

Chef John said...

Primavera requires colors? Says who? I have 7 shades of green. Chunks of out-of-season tomato added just for color is exactly what those hack hotel chefs would add. No offense.

Susanna said...

I've never had Pasta Primavera this green! It's like Pasta Verde :) Very complicated dish to me, but I should give it a go.

Johan said...

The color come when you eat outside, in the sun!!! Primavera means green! Thank you, chef!

Michael said...

my my...

dan said...

Chef,

I am improvising on the orzo risotto recipe using duck legs and lamb merguez sausage. My question is whether I should use the same spice blend or substitute based on the meats being used especially since cumin and bay leaf have very distinct flavors and may or may not work.

Thanks....

dan said...

Kyle Young:

Egg parm? Sounds awesome....I could go for some of that too

Anonymous said...

Hey Dan, I know how you feel. We woke up to 4 inches of snow this morning and it's still snowing. The lake we live on is still frozen!
But, I gotta say, when spring does come, it's worth the wait. I can hardly wait to go morel hunting.

Chef John, the primavera does look great--but I think I understand what blogagog is saying--I'll probably add a little FRESH yellow pepper.

Jackie from Washington state

Chef John said...

thanks, but I couldn't disagree more. Yellow bell peppers aren't not in season, and would be coming from far away. I will certainly do a version of this pasta with beautifully ripe local peppers and tomatoes this summer, I just won't call it "Spring" pasta.

Chef John said...

dan, i would spice separately, they are very different ingredients. that sausage is very strongly flavored.

Anonymous said...

OK--You win.
I gotta say, though, that everything in the recipe comes from far away from me.
Again I say, 4 inches of new snow and still snowing!
Jackie

Chef John said...

You are so lucky!! When the snow melts and you do have green veggies around, you will taste, enjoy, and appreciate this pasta on a level most of us can only imagine.

Chanelle said...

This looks amazing! I can not wait to make it, I will as soon as our local farmers market gears up. I love watching your videos!

Chris said...

Just wanted to say this was delicious. I made this for a date and it was a huge success!

NiceGuyMike said...

I tried this last night and had some leftovers for lunch. Surprisingly light with a very nice strong garlic flavor, but not so much smell (coworkers say they can only smell a little bit of garlic). Asparagus are the just wonderful in this dish. Perhaps some baby artichokes in the future.

Wife said it needs some ham. Although some ham might be really good, it would change the flavor profile enough make it a different dish.

It is even better the next day.

robyn said...

hi just wondering if I could substitute sugar snap peas with normal packet green peas?

Chef John said...

yes you can!

alex galan said...

Great recipe.
love the accent on freshness and in season vegetables.
The shmutz stuff was hillarious. I couldnt stop laughing by myself alone in the room.

Allen said...

Great Dish!!!!

Anonymous said...

I noticed your basil sauce was thick, but unfortunately there's no measurements to help get the right consistency. "A splash of this and a little of that, with a bunch of this" can make for a nightmare dinner for cooking novices.

Chef John said...

Not sure what you men, as the ing are listed under the video. Btw, trying to cook by following exact measurements is how novice cooks stay novice. Taste, feel and adjust without fear. If it doesn't work, you will try again, learning along the way. Enjoy!

Paul D said...

Outrageous. I followed the recipe but substituted the leeks for 1 large vidalia onion from my farmer's market.... The best pasta I have experimented with since Emeril's Cantaloupe & Pancetta sauce. A+

Denisa JINDRA said...

This is really delish!!!!!! yum yum! Can't wait for my Hubby to try it! I already know he will love it! Thank you Chef John!

Stefano Bart said...

"trying to cook by following exact measurements is how novice cooks stay novice"... Mr John, you're a genius. I'll try this recipe with wild asparagus, granpa's veggies and chicken broth from free-range chicken. What about some artichoke hearts as proposed by NiceGuyMike? Greetings from Italy

Anonymous said...

I made this in Paris- staying near a great outdoor market and all of the vegetables were perfect... I should have used more peas and I also used cut up green beans.
It was good but I think there was too much liquid in mine- I was a bit imprecise with the measurements--- so it was a bit bland and heavy on all of the onions. However, the next day it was incredible.
The cooking instructions for the vegetables were great. They were so perfectly done- I would go heavy on the vegetables and light on the pasta.

Josh, Split said...

Hi Chef John,

First up, massive thanks for your blog. It truly is my favourite resource for recipes and food humor!

Second, The girlfriend accidently picked up Peperoncini instead of Jalapenos. Would these work in the pasta or am I better off leaving them out?

Thanks again!

Josh, Split said...

Hi Chef John,

The Mrs accidently picked up Peperoncini and not Jalapenos. Will they still work in the dish? I'm unsure as peperonici is sweet and jalapenos are hot? Are we better off just leaving them out?

Any advice at all is welcome, thanks!

Chef John said...

taste them and decide! Any pepper will work, but you have to like how it tastes. :)

Anonymous said...

My wife's veggie friends are coming over tonight, so of course I looked to your site for ideas. This Spring Primavera is perfect! Can't wait to try it. Thanks again!

Brooklyn, NY

JTH said...

Made it tonight. Fantastic in every way.

Splendid said...

I needed to add a few pieces of diced carrots for color.

Patchin310 said...

Chef John;

As an expat living in China, fresh basil is a bit difficult to get a hold of. I was wondering what would make a substitute for basil? If no other substitute could I jsut use ground basil that comes in a spice bottle?

Chef John said...

It's easy to grow! ;) I'm not crazy about the flavor of dried, but you could try a little.

Sandy said...

Chef John! You're awesome! I think everyone else was also cooking basil-intensive dishes for dinner tonight, because I had to go to THREE grocery stores before I found one that had any basil left. It was completely worth the basil-hunting quest, though...this was great. I loved the subtle heat from the jalapeno. I wouldn't have thought to include that, but it really made it interesting.

Karen Balabanian said...

Did you use extra virgin olive oil or vegetable oil?

Thanks