Pasta Primavera

Pasta Primavera

Pasta Primavera

This dish is a big favorite at our house.  My husband ordered it once while we were on vacation, and absolutely loved it.  He still talks about how wonderful it was.  Just between you and me I think his memory has greatly enhanced it over time,  but since he first ate this meal, I have tried to recreate it.  These are the requirements:  pasta must be farfalle (bow-tie pasta), vegetables must be julian cut, sauce must be loose/wet, not creamy.    Several years ago I hit on the right combination, and he pronounced it “perfect”.  Hooray!

IMG_4648

Primavera is the Italian word for “spring”, and when I make it during the springtime, I use vegetables in season during the spring.  In today’s version I use vegetables that are more available in the summer with so much that is garden fresh now.  That’s the versatility of this recipe, you can change up what you put in it, and it still tastes great.

The recipe that gave me a basis to work with came from Giada DeLaurentiis’ book, Everyday Italian.   I made some modifications, mainly with the seasonings, to try to recapture the flavor Mr. D. remembers.  I also roasted the vegetables all together on a baking sheet seasoned with some olive oil and Italian herbs.  If all the vegetables are cut into the same size pieces, they will all cook up in the same time frame.  While they are roasting, you can have the pasta cooking, and you can be sauteing onion and garlic along with the other ingredients for the sauce.  Once the parts are cooked, put them all together, and you’re done. Simple and delicious!

IMG_4647

PASTA PRIMAVERA

Yield:   Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 3 carrots, peeled

    An assortment of vegetables and pasta make the meal.

    An assortment of vegetables and pasta make the meal.

  • 2 medium zucchini
  • 2 yellow summer squash
  • 1 yellow bell pepper
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, divided
  • 1 Tablespoon dried Italian herbs or herbes de Provence
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 pound dried farfalle pasta (bow-tie pasta)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1  1/2 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • fresh basil, chopped for garnish
  • shredded Parmesan cheese, for topping

1.  Preheat the oven to 450*F.   Cut the carrots, zucchini, squash, and bell peppers into thin 2-inch-long strips.  On a heavy baking sheet toss the vegetable strips with 2 Tablespoons olive oil, Italian herbs, salt and  pepper.  Transfer half of the vegetable mixture to another large, heavy baking sheet, and arrange the vegetables evenly over  both sheets.

Colorful vegetables, julian cut, before roasting.

Colorful vegetables, julian cut, before roasting.

2.  Bake, stirring after the first 10 minutes, and continue baking until carrots are tender and the other vegetables begin to brown, about 20 minutes, total.   Note:  my vegetables were fork tender at the 10 minute time, so watch carefully.  They should have a little chew to them and not be over cooked.

3.  Meanwhile bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Add the farfalle and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender but still firm to the bite, about 8-9  minutes.  Drain, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid.

4.   In a large skillet, heat the remaining olive oil.  Add the chopped onion, and minced garlic.  Cook on low until they are tender.  Add the lemon zest, lemon juice, and balsamic vinegar.  Mix to incorporate.  Add the pasta and roast vegetables and toss together.  Add the reserved pasta water a little at a time to liquify the sauce to your taste.

Add the pasta and vegetables to the sauce .

Add the pasta and vegetables to the sauce .

5.  Put into a large bowl, garnish with chopped basil and serve with Parmesan cheese to sprinkle on top.

Serve in a large bowl, garnished with fresh basil.

Serve in a large bowl, garnished with fresh basil.

IMG_4650

SOURCE:   Modified from  Everyday Italian, by Giada DeLaurentiis

Advertisements

Chicken Piccata

Chicken Piccata

Chicken Piccata

The series of posts Eat Out at Home continues with this recipe for Chicken Piccata, a dish readily found in most any Italian restaurant.  Since I had a package of chicken cutlets to use I was torn between making Chicken Parmesan or Chicken Piccata.  Somehow the Parmesan recipe seemed a little heavy and more suited to cold weather, so this one won out,  since the light lemony sauce of this recipe seems to go with spring.

This recipe is quite simple to make and takes very little time.  It requires only  basic cooking skills, so even if you’re a newcomer in the kitchen, you will be successful.  Preparing the chicken cutlets ahead of time is a time saver. You can pound them out and dredge in flour in advance, then refrigerate them till its time to cook the meal.  Because cutlets are lean and cook in just a few minutes, they produce  very little drippings to use in a sauce, so dredging in flour first, then cooking them will help them to brown and  the flour acts as an emulsifier to slightly thicken the sauce.  The addition of lemon, white wine, chicken broth and capers creates the classic piccata flavors.   Knowing how to make this dish assures you of success when serving guests, since many people know about this entree, but are unaware of how easy it is to make.

A common way to serve chicken piccata is with pasta.  Linguine is a good choice as it will get coated by the sauce.  In my version I added some baby spinach to my nearly cooked pasta in the last minute of cooking,  just so it got a little wilted .  Drain the pasta/spinach combo, place in a large bowl or serving dish and place the chicken cutlets with their sauce poured over the top.   Molto Delicioso!

Chicken with its sauce poured over pasta with spinach.

Chicken with its sauce poured over pasta with spinach.

CHICKEN PICCATA

Makes  4 servings.   Increase all quantities accordingly to make more servings.

Ingredients:

  • 2  boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut in half length-wise and pounded into cutlets.  (I was able to purchase a package of 4 chicken cutlets ready for use at the supermarket.)
  • salt and pepper

    Chicken cutlets, white wine, lemon, garlic and capers produce the classic flavors of this dish.

    Chicken cutlets, white wine, lemon, garlic and capers produce the classic flavors of this dish.

  • all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp. drained capers
  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • fresh lemon slices
  • chopped fresh parsley for garnish

1.   Season cutlets with salt and pepper, then dredge in flour.  Add oil to a sauté pan and heat over medium-high heat.

2.  Saute cutlets 2 – 3 minutes on one side.  Turn cutlets oven and cook the other side, covered,  1 – 2 minutes.  Transfer cutlets to a warmed platter and keep warm.  Pour off any fat from the pan.

Browning the cutlets.

Browning the cutlets.

3.  Deglaze the pan with wine and add minced garlic.  Cook until garlic is slightly brown and liquid is nearly evaporated, about 2 minutes.

Deglaze the pan with wine and garlic.

Deglaze the pan with wine and garlic.

4.  Add broth, lemon juice, and capers.  Return cutlets to pan and cook on each side for 1 minute.  Transfer cutlets to serving dish.

5.  Finish sauce with butter and lemons.  Once butter melts, pour sauce over cutlets.

Finishing the sauce with butter and lemons.

Finishing the sauce with butter and lemons.

6.  Garnish with fresh parsley and serve immediately.

Chicken Piccata served with pasta and spinach.

Chicken Piccata served with pasta and spinach.

SOURCE:    CUISINE at Home