Thursday, March 31, 2011

Spring Dish - Pasta Primavera

The dreaded time has come again which has veritably put a stop to all my meal planning.  It's military payday and I am boycotting the commissary til all retirees go back to their retiree dwellings so I can shop in peace.  Though I am always at Publix, the commissary is significantly cheaper for staples like meat and pantry supplies and my supplies are dwindling fast.  But I think I can hold out a day or two, especially since tomorrow night my BFF and I are going to The Crab Shack for some Low Country Boil to celebrate her return to the East Coast.  Until this weekend, I am still responsible for feeding the natives and they get restless at meal times.

So even though I am holding out for prime shopping conditions for my next "big' food shopping, I still have to feed my family.  I looked in my fridge yesterday for meal possibilities when my crisper drawer started calling to me. I had a ton of random veggies, no defrosted meat and what should I do?  The ideas of frittatas (not enough eggs), stir fry (no defrosted meat) and minestrone (no beef broth) danced in my heads til I realized what I could make.  I always ALWAYS have macaroni in the house in various shapes and forms. I also had lemon juice, olive oil and garlic and a ton of beautiful veggies.  I was going to make Pasta Primavera for dinner.

a kaleidoscope of veggie goodness

Primavera is Italian for spring and this dish represents the vegetable bounty that spring brings us.  I like to think of it as a dumping ground for all the veggies I don't want to throw out because they sat too long in my fridge.  You can use whatever you have in the house, like I did.  The one thing I love about this dish is how colorful it is.  You always hear TV doctors talking about incorporating a rainbow of fruits and veggies in your diet and this dish does just that, it looks amazing without lacking any flavor and it's good for you!

Pasta Primavera
2-3 random colored Bell Peppers ( I used about 8 of the mini bell peppers), julienned
1/2 bunch of asparagus, chopped into 1 in pieces
1 large zucchini, julienned
2 handfuls of string beans, chopped into 1 inch pieces
1/2 red onion, sliced thinly
2-4 cloves of garlic ( I used 4, but you know me, I fear Dracula. You can use as little as you like)
enough olive oil to cover bottom of large skillet ( I know it sounds like alot, but the olive oil is half of your sauce)
1.5 C lemon juice
1 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
1 TSP lemon pepper seasoning
1 TBSP italian seasoning
1 TBSP dried oregano
1 box of your favorite macaroni (Primavera is usually made with Angel Hair pasta, I used Rotini because it was what I had in the house)
s&p to taste
2 tbsp butter (optional)
grated cheese (optional)
  • Start your pot for boiling macaroni.
  • In a large skillet, heat on medium high and add olive oil.  Once hot add garlic and red pepper flakes.  Sautee for a minute then add onions.
  • Once onions start to soften, about 2-3 minutes, add your assorted vegetables.  Season with salt, lemon pepper seasoning, italian seasoning and oregano.  Let them sautee for about 2-3 minutes (don't let them carmelize) and then add lemon juice.  Lower heat to low and Cover.
  • Once water is boiling for macaroni, add salt and pasta.  Boil, uncovered til macaroni is al dente.
  • Once the macaroni is about finished, glaze off your vegetable sauce with the butter and add some fresh ground pepper.  The butter helps add depth to the sauce but this is completely optional.
  • Drain macaroni and add to the skillet with the vegetables.  Toss the macaroni and vegetables to evenly coat with sauce.
  • Serve with grated cheese if desired.

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