Pasta Primavera


Primavera means springtime in Italian.  This recipe is a mélange of fresh spring vegetables – sautéed baby artichokes, asparagus, fava beans, and peas tossed with pasta, grated Parmesan cheese, and fresh ground black pepper.  It incorporates those vegetables that become available at the market starting in Spring.  It’s a relatively simple dish to make but fresh baby artichokes require a little preparation before using.  You can also substitute frozen artichoke hearts if you can’t find baby artichokes.  Use fresh pasta for a real treat.


Difficulty Rating:  Medium
Makes 6 servings.

1 pound baby artichokes or 1 (9 ounce) package frozen artichoke hearts, defrosted and well drained
1 lemon, cut in half
1 cup shelled fava beans (about 2 pounds fava bean pods), outer skins removed
3 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 large onion, diced
1/2 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 cup fresh or frozen peas
1 pound fresh or dry pasta
Fresh ground black pepper
Grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese

1. PREPARE THE ARTICHOKES:  Remove the outer leaves of the artichokes until you reach the tender light inner leaves.  This requires removing three-fourths of the outer leaves or more.  Trim the bottom end of the artichokes and cut off 1/2-inch of the tip.  Using one half of the lemon, rub the cut ends of each artichoke to prevent browning.

2. BLANCHE THE ARTICHOKES:  Skip this step if you are using frozen artichokes.  Bring 2 cups of salted water to boil in a small saucepan over high heat.  Add the artichokes and squeeze in the juice of the remaining lemon half.  Bring to a boil again, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 5 to 7 minutes, until tender.  Drain, cut the artichokes into quarters, and set aside.

3, COOK THE VEGETABLES:  Bring a large pot of salted water to boil while cooking the vegetables.

Heat the olive oil in a large heavy bottom covered frying pan, over medium-high heat.  Reduce heat to medium-low, add the onion and cook for 1 minute.  Add the artichokes and saute for 3 minutes.  Add asparagus, fava beans, and peas, and sauté for 2 minutes longer.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Add water, cover and simmer on low for 5 to 10 minutes, until vegetables are tender.

4, COOK THE PASTA:  Add pasta to the boiling water and cook to al dente.  Drain pasta and place in a large serving bowl.  Toss butter and vegetable mixture into the pasta.  Serve with cheese and fresh ground pepper.

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