Thursday, April 21, 2011

Where it all Began - Pasta Primavera

Last week I shared my first salad dressing committed to memory, but this week I'm sharing the recipe that got me interested in cooking, not just baking.  My uncle has a passion for food and cooking and showed me how to make this simple "Pasta Primavera" as he called it.  If I am remembering correctly my grandma and I were visiting him in Florida over my spring break my freshman year of college.  He had lots of fresh veggies and a jar of homemade canned stewed tomatoes.  Add some spices and seasonings and serve over some pasta - dinner was done!  It smelled fantastic and tasted incredible to me - so different from the "spaghetti" that I was used to eating.  This became a recipe that I made for friends often - nothing written down, just a process to remember and a variety of fresh or frozen veggies.

This is a great recipe in the height of summer when fresh vegetables are in abundance at farmers markets or in your own garden, but it is also a nice hearty meal that can be made year round with vegetables that store well (like carrots) alongside frozen vegetables.  Be creative with the vegetables that you use.  You can use green beans, summer squash and zuchini, cauliflower, asparagus, spinach or other greens, etc.  The key is to use vegetables that you and your family like and maybe try one new one.  I have not canned my own stewed tomatoes yet, but I hope to this summer.  We want to grow our own tomatoes, in addition to what we will get from our CSA, and hope to have enough to try our hand at canning.  I did can some marinara sauce once - wow that was a lot of work for the small batch of tomatoes that I had.  But now that I know the lining of canned goods contains BPA, I'd like to do a lot more of my own canning.  Ryan got me a huge pressure canner one year, but since then I haven't had a place to have a garden large enough to get much use out of the canner.

Pasta Primavera

Olive oil to cover the bottom of the pan
1 medium onion, chopped
3 medium garlic cloves, crushed
*6-8 oz pork tenderloin (optional)
variety of fresh or frozen vegetables
(I used broccoli, carrots, edamame, peas)
1 large can stewed tomatoes with juices
Italian Seasoning
Salt and Pepper to taste
Sucanat or sugar to taste
*Corn starch, optional
Spaghetti or similar pasta, cooked

Saute onions in olive oil over medium heat until beginning to soften; add crushed garlic and cook for about a minute to fully flavor oil.  If using the pork tenderloin, cut into small bite sized pieces and add to pan, keeping separate from onions/garlic.  Remove the pork when
browned on all sides, set aside for later.  Add carrots and other fresh vegetables to onions and garlic.  If using frozen vegetables, add those after fresh veggies have started to soften.  When vegetables are beginning to soften, yet still slightly firm/crisp, add stewed tomatoes and about a teaspoon of Italian seasoning - the one I used in the pictures was brought back from Italy by a friend and happens to contain some dried pepper flakes, which adds a nice little kick.  Feel free to add a bit of spice, but not too much that it over powers your meal.  Be sure to salt the sauce well, but not too much - just enough to enhance the flavor.  Add a tablespoon or two of sweetener to cut the acidity of the tomatoes.  If you like a thicker, less runny sauce, add a 

teaspoon or two to a bit of cold water, stir well and then add to sauce.  Bring sauce to a boil to thicken.  Return pork to sauce and simmer for a few minutes.  Serve over pasta and with some fresh bread and a side salad.

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