Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Pasta Primavera

July 29, 2012

  • Pasta Primavera
  • Almost No-Knead Bread
  • Tossed Salad
  • 2009 Tré Monterey County Chardonnay

This was Caryn's last Sunday dinner at home with us this summer as she'll soon be returning to college. Thus it seemed only right and proper that this meal feature a vegetarian entrée. I asked her to suggest something but nothing special was forthcoming so I suggested Pasta Primavera. Primavera is Italian (and Spanish) for Spring and this dish features a lot of fresh, green vegetables. For most of my life the only pasta I ate was spaghetti with a red sauce. I now enjoy learning about other pasta dishes so this was an easy choice to make.

This dish is one where you really, really want to have your mise en place ready before you start cooking. It's similar to a stir-fried dish in that most of the work is preparing ingredients rather than cooking them. There are many ingredients which cook for only a short time so they all need to be cleaned, trimmed, cut, and measured ahead of time. You also want to have your two pots of boiling water ready (one for pasta, one for vegetables), a bowl of ice water, and a large skillet ready to go. The dish has three main components: pasta, vegetables, and sauce. The vegetables are blanched in boiling water, adding them in succession starting with green beans, which take the longest time to cook, and ending with peas. Dunking them in ice water stops the cooking and fixes their brillant colors. The sauce is made by browning mushrooms in butter, then adding tomatoes, and finally cream. For pasta the recipe calls for fettuccine.

For side dishes I made my favorite bread using America's Test Kitchen's almost no-knead recipe. I asked Caryn to make a salad. She included: Earthbound Farms Spring Mix, a fresh tomato from our little garden, and an heirloom tomato from our Farm Fresh to You box.  Diane selected a nice, non-oaked Chardonnay from a winery in nearby Morgan Hill that we had visited earlier this month with Caleb.

After several Sunday dinners with roasted meat it was nice to have something relatively light. The bread came out really well and we consumed over half the loaf. (It's good left over but never as good as when it is fresh.)  We all thought the entrée had too much pasta for the amount of sauce and vegetables, but it was still very good. We enjoyed it all and it was a suitable last Sunday home meal for Caryn. It's been nice having her home for the last few months and we'll miss her as she returns to college.

Pasta Primavera
Almost No-Knead Bread

The "sloppy chicken" sandwich makes a good dinner or lunch, just warm up some in the microwave and server on a bun. It only gets better as it ages and flavors continue to develop. I suspect it freezes well, too, but it didn't come to that.. The potato buns kept pretty well.  They did dry out some and became a little brittle, breaking apart when served with the chicken. I wonder how they would have been toasted, we didn't try that.

The pasta primavera was also very good left over, it just needed to be warmed in the microwave. Unlike the original meal their seemed to be plenty of vegetables this time, suggesting it was not well mixed. However, we still thought it would have been better with more sauce.

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