The Greatest Thing I Have Ever Made, or The Miracle that is Pasta Primavera


I don't believe in plain pasta. Pasta should be hearty: it should be eaten with plenty of luscious sauce and vegetables and cheese and meaty complements, so that you're not hungry five minutes after you've finished.

The perfect pasta has been found: Pasta Primavera.
It's luscuious and light and creamy and lemony. It fulfills my pasta requirements.
The most wonderful thing, though, is that it's all topped with an incredible tomato balsamic sauce, which I'm going to call a "reduction", even though it sounds pretentious.

Even better, after eating I actually felt full.

Though many of the steps in this recipe seemed fussy, it's really relatively simple, and so completely and utterly worth it that it's probably the only thing you'll want to eat for the rest of your life, because that's just how good it is.

Note on recipe: I had no mushrooms, parsley (who does?), green beans, or pine nuts. I added finely shredded carrots to the tomato "reduction". It was still perfect, even though I was getting creative.

Pasta Primavera
from The Gourmet Cookbook

1 ounce dried morel mushrooms
1 1/2 cups warm water
1/2 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces
1/4 green beans, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 cup frozen baby peas, thawed
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons minced garlic
rounded 1/2 teasoon red pepper flakes
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 pints tomatoes
1 tablespoon balsalmic vinegar
3 tablespoons water
1 pound spaghettini
1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) butter
2/3 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (about 2 ounces)
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil
1/3 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted

Prepare the vegetables:
Soak morels in warm water in a small bowl for 30 minutes.
Lift mushrooms out of water and squeeze excess liquid back into bowl. Pour soaking liquid through a sieve lined witha dampened paper towel into a small bowl: reserve. Rinse throughly to remove grit, then squeeze dry. Cut off and discard any tough stems. Halve morels.

Add asparagus and beans to a 6 to 8 quart pot of boiling salted water, and cook, uncovered for 3 minutes. Add peas and cook until beans and asparagus and just tender, 1 to 2 minutes more. Immediately transfer with a slotted spoon to a large bowl of ice water to stop the cooking, (or simply rise with cold water in a colander), drain.
Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a 10 to 12 inch heavy skillet over moderately low heat. Add 1 teaspoon garlic and rounded 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes and cook, stirring until garlic is fragrant, about 1 minute. Add drained vegetables and salt and pepper to taste and cook, stirring for 2 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.

Cook the tomatos:
Cut half of tomatoes into quarters and halve remainder lenghtwise, keeping quarters and halves separate> Heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil in same skillet over moderately low heat. Add remaining 1 teaspoon garlic and remainging rounded 1/4 red pepper flakes and cook, stirring, just until garlic is fragrant, about 1 minute. Add quartered tomatoes, with salt and ppepper to taste and simmer, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes are softened, about 3 minutes. Add halved tomatoes, vinegar and water and simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce is thickened and halved tomatoes are softened, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat and keep warm, covered.

Cook the spaghettini:
Return pot of water to a boil and cook spgahettinini until al dente; drain in a colander.
Immediately add butter, cream, zest and morels to (empty) pasta pot, bring to a simmer and simmer gently, uncovered, for 2 minutes. Stir in cheese, then add pasta, tossing to coat and adding as much of reserved morel soaking liquid as necessary (1/2 to 2/3 cup) to keep pasta well coated. Add green vegetables, parsley, basil, pine nuts, and salt and pepper to taste, toss gently to combine.

Serve pasta topped with tomatoes and if desired more Parmigiano-Reggino shavings.