Tuesday, April 20, 2010

No-cream pasta primavera

Back in the day when people had such a thing known as "discretionary income," several coworkers and I would regularly go out to lunch. By regularly, I mean this was a near-daily occurance, and among my most favorite lunches was the Chicken Giardino at the Olive Garden. (Which I always ordered sans-chicken, as I was a definite vegetarian in that era.)

Fast forward a recession (or two), a baby (or two), and those days are long gone.

Now it's a decade later and I'm wondering what to make for dinner. I have some straight from-the-farm-fresh veggies. It's springtime; I want pasta primavera but I don't want the heavy creaminess associated with such a dish. I log onto allrecipes.com.

And find this: No-Cream Pasta Primavera, as submitted by amanda1432. As I substitute farfalle pasta for penne, I realize that this looks pretty similar to my beloved Chicken Giardino.

I think this is the type of recipe where the list of veggies lends itself well to substituting whatever you have on hand. Yellow squash, zucchini, red bell pepper, and fresh green beans were not in my fridge, but baby carrots, asparagus, and tomatoes (vine-ripened) were. (Don't let the long list of ingredients scare you. This is much easier than it looks.)

1 (12 ounce) package penne pasta
1 yellow squash, chopped
1 zucchini, chopped
1 carrot, julienned
1/2 red bell pepper, julienned
1/2 pint grape tomatoes
1 cup fresh green beans, trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces
5 spears asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces
1/4 cup olive oil, divided
1/4 teaspoon salt 1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black
1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons lemon zest
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup grated Romano cheese

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C). Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.

2. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add penne pasta and cook for 10 to 12 minutes or until al dente; drain.

3. In a bowl, toss squash, zucchini, carrot, red bell pepper, tomatoes, green beans, and asparagus with 2 tablespoons olive oil, salt, pepper, lemon juice, and Italian seasoning. Arrange vegetables on the baking sheet, and roast 15 minutes in the preheated oven, until tender.

4. Heat remaining olive oil and butter in a large skillet. Stir in the onion and garlic, and cook until tender. Mix in cooked pasta, lemon zest, basil, parsley, and balsamic vinegar. Gently toss and cook until heated through. Remove from heat and transfer to a large bowl. Toss with roasted vegetables and sprinkle with Romano cheese to serve.

Knowing that my kids wouldn't look at this if the vegetables were included, I dished out some plain pasta before adding the vegetables. (I also forgot the last few herbs and the balsamic vinegar.)

I loved this, and so did The Husband. Boo ate a decent amount of it, and Betty was only interested in the carrots and peas (which I'd added at the very last minute). It could lend itself well to the addition of chicken or shrimp. I'll definitely be making this again - in some variety - as the bounty from the farm continues to arrive with the nice weather.


  1. This is EXACTLY what I was looking for for inspiration for tonight's dinner! I'm hitting the local farm with Nik today and will make this tonight. YUM.

  2. Mmmmm. This will definitely be on my menu for the week!

  3. Let me know how it turns out for you! Hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

  4. I think the Olive Garden are the only ones that add cream.

    This is exactly how it should be made sans cream...
    I would use the bow tie pasta also. Love them and when I am lazy, most days, Whole Foods sells them already cooked (G)...