Sunday, August 17, 2008

pasta primavera

our favorite -- ditalini with vegetables

We have not been overly fond of the American creation "pasta primavera". Frequently it seems to be throwing a variety of vegetables into some cooked pasta, without regard to how the tastes meld or how the vegetables work with the pasta. Sort of a warm pasta salad.

Here is a primavera we first tasted in a trattoria outside of Bologna. It uses ditali, the small pasta that does meld well with the vegetable slices. It is simple, beautiful in presentation, and has all the tastes we treasure in a well-conceived pasta.

for the sauce:

  • one garlic clove, peeled and minced
  • two medium size yellow bell peppers
  • two medium zucchini
  • eight ounces of green beans
  • two medium carrots
  • one tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • one cup extra virgin olive oil
  • one quarter cup freshly grated parmesan
  • salt and pepper

for the pasta:

  • One pound Italian-made ditalini. Use the large size, not the small ones that are primarily for soup. We also use pennette lischia, the very small version of penne, which works well.

Soak the zucchini in cold water for sifteen minutes. Scrub and dry. Slice into thin slices.

Heat the yellow pepper over a flame to scorch the skin, and then peel the pepper. Dice it into quarter-inch dices.

Pel the carrots and either slice in thin slices or dice. Blanch the carrots in hot water for two minutes. Drain and set aside.

Trim the ends of the green beans. Cut in half. Blanch in hot water for two minutes, drain and set aside.

Over medium heat, put in a half cup of the olive oil. Add the garlic. After thirty seconds add the pepper and cook for two minutes. Add the zucchini and cook for another minute. Add the blanched carrots and green beans, stir, and cook for two minutes. Set aside.

Get five quarts of water up to a raging boil. Add two tablespoons of salt. Add the ditalini. Cook until al dente. Reserve one cup of the pasta liquid. Drain.

Return the vegetables to heat, and add the drained paste to the sauteed vegetables. Add the additional half cup of olive oil. Add a half easpoon of salt and several grinds of fresh black pepper. (if dry, add some of the reserved liquid).

Add the parsley. Stir. Add the parmesan and stir again. Cover the pan and turn up the heat, for one minute, to get the pasta steaming hot.


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