Monday, July 30, 2012

Summertime Pasta Primavera [Rhonda]

Degree of difficulty: easy to medium, only because you're working with angel hair pasta
Time: 15 minutes prep, 10 minutes to cook
Serves: 2 generously

There was a restaurant, Dieci, around the corner and down the street from our E. 84th Street brownstone when Mike and I lived in Manhattan, that served the absolute best pasta primavera, always with snips of fresh basil. Their choice of springtime vegetables--asparagus, snow peas--can be subbed out for seasonal summer produce. The Saturday lunch version you see here is just zucchini, yellow squash, ripe tomatoes and basil.

Two secrets that you already know. One, use real parmesan reggiano. Two, use homemade stock if you have it. Takes it from amazing to ridiculous.

12 ounces angel hair pasta
2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 cups or more homemade chicken stock, or canned
Splash of white wine
A squeeze of fresh lemon juice
1 zucchini, chopped
1 yellow squash, chopped
2 ripe tomatoes, chopped (I used Roma)
Handful mushrooms, chopped (not used here because of Mike's sad aversion to them)
2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup or so grated parmesan reggiano
10 or so basil leaves, chopped
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Prep (clean and chop) all veggies. Heat the water for the pasta in small stock pot. Melt butter in saute pan, add garlic and those vegetables that take longer to cook--here, the zucchini and squash.

Saute, then add tomatoes. Add splash of white wine, saute to reduce slightly, add stock. (If you're using canned stock and want to reduce it a bit, strain out the veggies before they are can always add them back in at the last.) The trick is to balance the amount of stock with parmesan cheese--too much cheese (Mike believes there is no such thing) will make the whole dish dry. Too much stock, well, that doesn't work either. Add some of the grated cheese to the sauce, and squeeze just a little fresh lemon juice into it.

Drain the angel hair pasta after cooking it al dente (and watching it! the whole cook process for angel hair is measured in small minutes, 2 or 3, tops). Dump pasta back in stock pot, add vegetables, sauce, basil, salt and pepper, and some parmesan. Toss, taste and adjust seasonings and liquids if necessary. Serve with basil leaves for garnish and a light sprinkle of parmesan.

Suggested soundtrack: Luciano Pavarotti's "Che gelida manina" from La Boheme
Che gelida manina by Luciano Pavarotti on Grooveshark

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