Ah, springtime. A time for renewal, hope and veggie primavera. It’s a nice, simple dish that lets the flavors of all the ingredients come through. Give it a try!
Over the years the recipe has been much varied by many chefs and home cooks, but the nearest I could find to the original comes from the Food and Wine magazine's first issue, and it goes like this:
1/3 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup minced basil
1 teaspoon finely minced garlic
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 cups broccoli florets, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 pound snow peas, trimmed and halved crosswise
2 small zucchini, quartered lengthwise and sliced 1/4 inch thick
6 asparagus stalks, peeled and sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 pound imported spaghetti
1/2 pound mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 cup thawed frozen baby peas
1/4 cup chicken stock or canned low-sodium broth
1 to 1 1/2 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2/3 cup heavy cream
6 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
1. Preheat the oven to 300°. Spread the pine nuts in a pie plate and toast for about 12 minutes, or until golden.
2. In a small skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the tomatoes, 1/4 cup of the parsley, the basil and 1/2 teaspoon of the garlic and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until the tomatoes soften, 2 or 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
3. Bring a stockpot of water to a boil. Add the broccoli, snow peas, zucchini and asparagus, bring back to a boil and blanch for 30 seconds. Using a slotted spoon, quickly transfer the vegetables to a colander. Rinse under cold running water or immerse in ice bath to stop the cooking. Drain and pat dry.
4. Return the water to a boil and add salt. Add the spaghetti and boil until al dente, about 11 minutes.
5. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the remaining 1/4 cup of olive oil. Add the mushrooms and the remaining 1 tablespoon of parsley and 1/2 teaspoon of garlic. Cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are lightly browned. Add the blanched vegetables and the baby peas and toss over high heat until most of liquid has evaporated and the vegetables are just tender.
6. Reheat the tomato sauce. Drain the spaghetti and return it to the stockpot. Add the chicken stock, Parmesan, cream and butter and stir over low heat until the cheese melts. Add the vegetables, season with salt and pepper and toss thoroughly. Transfer the spaghetti to 6 plates, top with the tomato sauce and serve.
If you wish to vary the recipe, you can use a different sort of pasta. You can also include some spring vegetables from your own locality, such as fiddlehead ferns or morel mushrooms. A lighter version I like to do sometimes is simply sauté some garlic in olive oil and toss in the prepared vegetables, fresh herbs, and pasta then top with seasoned diced tomato and more fresh herbs.