I’m kind of an idiot when it comes to Spring. My favorite season is the fall because it’s not as hot and humid as the Summer, which is great for a bigger guy like me that isn’t at his most attractive when damp. On the other hand, I always get excited for the Spring even though I really shouldn’t. I get allergies pretty badly as soon as that first fake-out warm day comes to New England (you know that day when it’s around 75 degrees, but then the rest of the week is like 37 degrees). On that day, the plants get ahead of themselves thinking it’s time to get it on with the other plants in that polyamorous pollination-fest we call Spring and I spend the rest of the season in a stuffy-headed stupor.
Nonetheless, there is something enticing about the world slowly coming back to life and people getting out of their Winter funks as they spend a little more time in the sunlight. With Spring in gear, I thought it was about time for a recipe that uses fresh vegetables and vibrant colors. Often, during lent, many of us go without eating meat, so that got me thinking about a meatless dish. If you don’t know me, then you might not grasp the monumental gravity of that revelation. Pasta Primavera came to mind as something hearty, but that also includes a variety of vegetables. It’s easy to make and seemed appropriate as many vegetables start to come back in season. It’s also a great way to make a vibrant pasta dish without the usual go-to of tomato sauce.
This recipe came out really well and I ate the leftovers for lunch while at work over the next couple of days. If you don’t want to make this much pasta, then I would still suggest making the same amount of vegetables because you can use the cooked vegetables in other ways. Throw them over rice or make a stir fry with melted cheese. You can even just make them into a sandwich. They also pair really well as a side dish for meat or chicken.
Makes 8 servings at 2512 calories total or 314 calories per serving.
- 1 head of brocolli (about 200 cal.)
- 3 tomatoes (about 90 cal.)
- 1 yellow bell pepper (about 20 cal.)
- 1/2 a medium/large onion (about 20 cal.)
- 1 zucchini (about 40 cal.)
- 8 oz. (about 2 cups) of sliced white mushrooms (about 50 cal.)
- 4 cloves of garlic (about 12 cal.)
- 4 tablespoons of olive oil (480 cal.)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt (plus more for the pasta water and to taste)
- 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
- 3 tablespoons of fresh chopped Italian parsley (plus more for garnish)
- 16 oz. wt. (8 servings) of pasta (about 800 cal.).
Note: I used radiatore shaped pasta because I had it lying around, it’s fun looking, and the ridges really trap a lot of flavors. You can use ridged penne, ziti, or even fettucini/linguine/spaghetti/angel hair if you want. I wouldn’t recommend a really tiny pasta like elbows or ditalini though.
- Two large skillets/frying pans
- Large pot
- Cutting board
- Wooden spoon
- Teaspoon and tablespoon measurements
- Measuring cup or food scale
- Chop up three tomatoes, one bell pepper, and 1/2 a medium-large onion and set them aside.
- Next chop up the rest of the vegetables (finely dice the parsley) and set them aside.
Note: A fun tip is to look at the pasta you have and try to cut the vegetables into a similar shape. For example, if you have spaghetti, then long and thin (julienne), or if you have something like radiatore, then short and fat.
- Set a large skillet (preferably with a lid, but not necessary) on the stove over medium/high heat.
- Add in two tablespoons of olive oil to the skillet.
- Put the tomatoes in the skillet with half of the bell pepper, and all of the onion. Then add in three cloves of crushed garlic along with a half teaspoon of salt and an 1/8 teaspoon of black pepper.
- Bring the ingredients to a simmer and then reduce the heat to low.
- Cover the ingredients as they simmer if you want, but it is not absolutely necessary. Let them simmer for about 20 minutes or so until they are well cooked and have created a kind of basic sauce.
- While that pan simmers, bring a large pot of water to a roiling boil and then add in a tablespoon of salt to the water. This is to season the pasta and salting the water is your only opportunity. Get the pasta going and cook it until just al dente (firm, but chewable).
- In another large skillet place one tablespoon of olive oil into the pan, place it on the stove, and bring the heat up to medium.
- Add in the mushrooms and get them cooked and a little brown.
- Next, add in the broccoli, and the rest of the vegetables (including the other half of the bell pepper, excluding the fresh parsley. Save that for later!) along with one more tablespoon of olive oil and one more crushed clove of garlic. Mix all of the ingredients and stir them every 30 seconds or so. The goal is to get the vegetables hot, but not overcooked/squishy. They should be cooked, but still a little firm.
- Pour the contents of the skillet that had the tomatoes in it over the skillet with the vegetables and then mix everything together really well. Remove from heat.
- After mixing the vegetables, add in the three tablespoons of fresh parsley and mix that in really well with the vegetables.
- Drain the pasta when it is ready and put it back in the pot, but off of the heat.
- Mix in the vegetables with the pasta while the pasta is in the pot.
- Serve immediately and garnish with a little bit of fresh diced parsley (or basil for an entirely different flavor). Try adding some freshly grated Parmesan cheese at the end for another level of added flavor.