I have to admit that the warmer weather and the abundance of fresh food at the market have given me quite an appetite. Lucky for me there is a dish that not only incorporates all that is good about spring, it actually incorporates the word itself. Chef Jerry Pellegrino is proud to say, it's a gift the Italian language has given to the world: primavera. But in point of fact, it's a dish that doesn't even exist in Italy.
Despite the Italian name which means "spring" (or "first green") the dish was originally concocted in New York City in 1975, and was popularized by Craig Claiborne and Pierre Franey (an American and a Frenchman). Nevertheless it is a good match for the season with its fresh lightly cooked vegetables and its flavorful sauce.
Now, should the sauce be cream and cheese based or olive oil based? Jerry comes down on the olive oil side of the equation, but does dress the plate with grated cheese. Although the original recipe called for spaghetti, nearly any form of pasta seems to do these days.
2 cups fusilli pasta
1 tablespoon kosher salt, to boil pasta
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon chili flakes
5 garlic cloves, peeled and lightly smashed
1 bunch asparagus, cut into ¼ inch slices, tops left intact
1 cup fresh or frozen green peas
1 cup pea shoots
½ cup Parmesan, plus extra for garnish
½ cup of reserved pasta water
kosher salt and pepper to taste
Bring 8 cups of water to a boil in a large pot. Add salt and pasta and cook until al dente. Reserve ½ a cup of the pasta water before draining. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, toss, cover and set aside until use.
In a large skillet on medium-high heat, bring oil to temperature. When the oil is shimmering, add chili flakes and garlic. Move and flip the garlic in the pan until it turns golden brown. Carefully remove garlic from the skillet, roughly chop and reserve.
Add the asparagus to the pan and cook for 1 minute. Add the peas and cook for an additional minute. Add the pea shoots and season with salt and pepper. Add the cooked pasta and stir or toss to combine. Add the reserved pasta water, followed by the cheese, and toss until all is combined and the cheese has melted.
Transfer to soup plates and garnish with black pepper and additional grated cheese. Serve immediately.