Recipe: Pasta Primavera

Based on a recipe from May 1999 Cook's Illustrated (and from Cook's Illustrated Cookbook, 2011, page 178) and prepared for dinner on Sunday, July 29, 2012

Makes 6 servings in the original recipe, but based on our experience you will get more servings than this. This is a recipe where you will want to prepare your mise en place, have everything ready to cook before you start cooking.


6 ounces green beans
1 pound asparagus
1 medium zucchini
1 cup frozen peas
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
8 ounces white mushrooms
1 pound large plum or roma tomatoes
½ cup heavy cream
1 pound dry fettucine
2 cloves garlic
Fresh basil leaves (to make ¼ cup after shredding)
1½ tablespoons lemon juice
Grated parmesan cheese


  1. Trim the green beans and cut into ¾-inch pieces.
  2. Snap the tough ends off the asparagus stalks and cut into ¾-inch pieces on a bias.
  3. Cut zucchini into ½-inch pieces.
  4. Measure and thaw the peas.
  5. Trim the mushrooms and cut them into thin slices.
  6. Peel and core the tomatoes and chop coarsely.
  7. Peel and mince the garlic.
  8. Shred fresh basil to make ¼ cup.
  9. Bring 6 quarts water with 1 tablespoon salt to boil for pasta.
  10. Bring 3 quarts water with 1 tablespoon salt to boil for vegetables.
  11. Fill a large bowl with ice water to blanch the vegetables after cooking.
  12. Add green beans to boiling water and cook for 90 seconds.
  13. Add asparagus and cook for 30 seconds.
  14. Add zucchini and cook for 30 seconds.
  15. Add peas and cook for 30 seconds.
  16. Drain the vegetables and immediately add them to the bowl of ice water.
  17. Once the vegetables are well chilled, about 3 minutes, drain and set aside.
  18. In the same pan used to cook the vegetables, heat 3 tablespoons of butter on medium until foamy.
  19. Add mushrooms and cook until soft and starting to turn golden brown, 8-10 minutes.
  20. Add tomatoes and simmer on medium until the tomatoes begin to lose their shape, about 7 minutes.
  21. Add cream and simmer until slightly thickened, about 4 minutes, then cover to keep warm and set aside.
  22. Cook the fettucine until al dente.
  23. Heat 3 tablespoons butter in a large skillet on medium until foamy.
  24. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  25. Add vegetables and toss over medium heat until the vegetables are infused with garlic and warmed through, about 2 minutes.
  26. Drain pasta and toss well with the sauce.
  27. Add vegetables, basil, and lemon juice; toss to mix well and serve with parmesan on the side.
Trim the green beans and cut into ¾″ pieces.

Snap the tough end off the asparagus spears and then cut on a bias into ¾″ pieces. 

Cut the squash into ½″ pieces.
Peel the tomatoes with a vegetable peeler, remove the cores, and chop them coarsely.

Trim and thinly slice the mushrooms.
Measure the heavy cream, mince the garlic and basil.

Mise en place is done, only now do we cook.

Two pots of boiling water and a skillet, ready to go.

The vegetables are blanched: cooked first in boiling water ...

... then immersed in ice water.

Sauté the sliced mushrooms in butter.

Add tomatoes and cook until the tomatoes start to lose their shape.

Add cream and simmer to slightly thicken the sauce.

It's all coming together: the vegetables warming in a butter/garlic sauce, the cream sauce warmed, and pasta cooking.

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