I happen to get recipes sent from Saveur magazine about once a week. Today, they have one of my favorite pasta recipes ever - the pasta primavera classic devised by Serio Maccioni/Le Cirque.
We used to make this all the time, or once or twice every springtime - the recipe was popularized by Craig Claiborne sometime in the seventies or maybe the eighties. It's a little complicated in the recipe prep - but worth it, utterly delicious, luxurious.
Sirio Maccioni, the well-known restauranteur of Le Cirque fame, has been acknowledged for creating this dish.
1 medium zucchini, trimmed, quartered lengthwise, and cut
crosswise into 1⁄4"-thick pieces
1 medium yellow summer squash, trimmed, quartered
lengthwise, and cut crosswise into 1/4"-thick pieces
1 1⁄2 cups fresh shelled green peas
Florets from 1 lb. broccoli
8 spears asparagus, trimmed and cut crosswise into
6 tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
16 button mushrooms, stemmed, caps quartered
1⁄4 cup pine nuts
4 plum tomatoes, peeled, cored, and coarsely chopped
1 lb. spaghetti
3 cups heavy cream
1⁄4 cup freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano
1⁄4 cup chicken stock or vegetable stock
4 tbsp. butter, softened
12–14 leaves basil, shredded
1. Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Put zucchini and squash into a sieve, blanch for 30 seconds, transfer to a large bowl of ice water to stop them from cooking further, then gently shake sieve to remove excess water, transfer vegetables to a small bowl, and set aside. Repeat blanching and cooling process with the peas, broccoli, and asparagus, in that order, setting vegetables aside in separate bowls.
2. Heat 2 tbsp. of the olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté zucchini and squash and broccoli until just beginning to brown, 2–3 minutes. Add peas, one-third of the garlic, and salt to taste, sauté for 1 minute, then transfer to a medium bowl, cover, and set aside. Wipe skillet clean. Heat 2 tbsp. of the oil in the skillet over medium-high heat and sauté mushrooms until golden brown, 2–3 minutes. Add pine nuts and sauté until golden, 1–2 minutes. Add half the garlic and salt to taste, sauté for 30 seconds, then transfer to a small bowl, cover, and set aside. Wipe skillet clean. Heat 1 tbsp. of the oil in the skillet over medium-high heat, sauté asparagus until lightly browned, about 1 minute, then transfer to a small bowl, cover, and set aside. Add the remaining 1 tbsp. oil, tomatoes, remaining garlic, and salt to taste to the skillet, and cook over medium-high heat, stirring often, until tomatoes break apart and release their juice, 3–4 minutes. Cover and set aside.
3. Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water over high heat until just cooked through, 10–12 minutes. Meanwhile, boil 2 1/2 cups of the cream in a large skillet over medium-high heat until slightly thickened, 5–6 minutes. Stir in parmigiano and salt to taste. Drain pasta, add to skillet with cream, and cook, stirring often, until pasta absorbs sauce, 2–3 minutes. Add the remaining 1/2 cup cream, stock and butter, and stir constantly until sauce thickens, 1–2 minutes.
4. Divide pasta among four warm bowls. Dividing quantities equally, top pasta with zucchini-broccoli mixture, mushroom mixture, tomato sauce, and asparagus, in that order. Garnish with basil.
This article was first published in Saveur in Issue #66