Pasta Primavera was one of the most popular dishes of the 1970s. It was created by an Italian chef from New York while he was working in Canada, so very American. Basically, the dish consists of fresh vegetables, pasta, butter, cheese, and cream. You can make the dish your own by using whatever vegetables you enjoy, tossing in cooked shrimp or chicken, and by varying the pasta you use. I skipped the meat and used gnocchi, which are potato dumplings. Once you taste this your will realize why it has been popular for 4 decades, but still tastes fresh and new.
Time: Prep: 10 minutes, Cook: 15 Minutes
Hardware: measuring spoons and cups, a cutting board and knives, a large heavy-bottom skillet (I prefer a cast iron skillet), a large pot, a slotted spoon, tongs
- 1 + 1 tablespoons butter
- 1 pound tomatoes
- 1 small onion (½ cup)
- ½ bell pepper -or 3 baby bells (½ cup)
- 4-5 cloves of garlic
- 6-7 basil leaves
- 5 ounces of baby spinach
- ¼ cup cream
- ¼ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
- 4 quarts of water
- 16 oz gnocchi
- Quarter and seed the tomatoes. Remove the seeds and white ribs from the pepper. Slice the onion, peppers, and garlic. Remove the stems from the spinach. Set aside.
- Heat one tablespoon of the butter in the skillet on medium. Put 4 quarts of salted water on to boil
- Add the onions, peppers, and garlic to the butter and cook until fragrant. Stirring only often enough to keep anything from sticking. After the onion mixture has cooked for about 5 minutes, add the tomatoes and the spinach. Salt generously. Once again only stir often enough to keep anything from sticking.
- Stack the basil leaves and roll them up. Cut them into very fine strips. (This is called chiffonade.) Set aside.
- Add the gnocchi to the salted water. They will only take about 4 minutes to cook. They are done when they float.
- While waiting for the gnocchi, turn the heat under the veggies to low. Fold in the cream, cheese, second tablespoon of butter, and the basil leaves. Do this GENTLY (you don’t want the vegetables to be mushy).
- As soon as the gnocchi begin to float, scoop them out with the slotted spoon and add them to the veggies. If you want more sauce add a little pasta water.
- Taste and adjust the salt.