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May 20, 2014 - Radio Kitchen - Primavera

I think in some ways this spring of 2014 is all the more welcome because of the severity of our winter.  For the last few weeks we've been enjoying wonderful weather, warm breezes and the miracle of our gardens coming back to life.  And as Chef Jerry Pellegrino of Waterfront Kitchen has observed, this long-awaited season of renewal ought to be celebrated somehow.  

Of course it is, and the Spanish and Italian names for Spring, "primavera," say it all:  the first green.  The name primavera has been borrowed for an entire class of dishes that depend on the first new produce of the year.  Here is a recipe for a classic pasta primavera, and you should feel free to improvise with the vegetables.

                Classic Pasta Primavera

2 large carrots, peeled, cut in half lengthwise, then cut thinly on a bias
1 medium head of broccoli, stalk removed, cut into small pieces
1 medium onion, peeled, coarsely chopped
2 red peppers, de-seeded, cut into small chunks
4 spears of thin asparagus, trimmed, cut into 1" lengths
1/2 cup fresh green peas
1 tbs minced garlic
olive oil and butter for sautéing
1/4 cup white wine
1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth
salt to taste
1/2 cup heavy cream
4 or 5 basil leaves, cut in a chiffonade
grated parmesan cheese
1 pound uncooked penne pasta

1.  In a large skillet, over low heat, sauté the carrots and broccoli in a mixture of olive oil and butter.  As they become tender, add the onion, peppers and asparagus. Do not overcook.  Finally, add the peas and minced garlic, taking care not to burn the garlic.

2.  Remove the vegetables to a bowl.  De-glaze the skillet with the wine, scraping up any browned bits.  Pour in the chicken broth and hold at a boil, stirring constantly.  When the sauce begins to thicken, reduce heat and season with a little salt.

3.  Add the cream to the sauce, and stir well, over low heat.  Toss in the chiffonade of basil leaves and stir.  Add the grated cheese and cook until it is melted.

4.  Add the vegetables back into the sauce, and stir thoroughly.  Keep sauce warm.

5.  In a large pot of salted water, cook the pasta until it is al dente.  When it is cooked, drain it and pour the pasta into the skillet with the sauce and vegetables.  Mix thoroughly, and serve.

 **The Radio Kitchen Featured Buy of the Week**
Potted annuals for planting - Many farmers are bringing flowering plants to the market where eager gardeners snap them up.  Geraniums, pansies, marigolds, petunias and many others are waiting for you to take them home.

Al Spoler, well known to WYPR listeners as the wine-loving co-host of "Cellar Notes" has had a long-standing parallel interest in cooking as well. Al has said, the moment he started getting serious about Sunday night dinners was the same moment he started getting serious about wine. Over the years, he has benefited greatly from being a member of the Cork and Fork Society of Baltimore, a gentlemen's dining club that serves black tie meals cooked by the members themselves who are some of Baltimore's most accomplished amateur cooks.
Executive Chef Jerry Pellegrino of Corks restaurant is fascinated by food and wine, and the way they work in harmony on the palate. His understanding of the two goes all the way to the molecular level, drawing on his advanced education in molecular biology. His cuisine is simple and surprising, pairing unexpected ingredients together to work with Corks' extensive wine offerings.