Pasta Primavera

Pasta Primavera with garlic pasta.

Pasta Primavera with garlic pasta.

This is a fast, easy, cold summer pasta salad. You can use any kind of pasta — and I know some people prefer to use all kinds of small shaped pasta for cold pasta salads — but for some reason I’ve always used fettuccine, perhaps because it’s most likely to come in assorted flavors and colors. I used to make this all the time many years ago, and I’m not sure why I stopped since it’s not like summers are any cooler. 😉 But it’s been so many years since I made it that when I was making up the grocery list, I had to stop and think hard about what vegetables I used to use. Honestly, all I can remember are tomatoes and peas, but I’m fairly sure it had squash of some sort as well. The original recipe probably had seasonings added, but I used Boyajian basil-flavored olive oil instead.

A language note: “primavera” means spring and often refers to sauteed spring vegetables. The only spring vegetable in it, however, are peas. If you want this to be a spring dish, you could substitute steamed or sauteed broccoli for the zucchini, but really I don’t know what spring vegetable would be a likely substitute for fresh tomatoes. They brighten the dish both in color and also flavor! When you start swapping out ingredients in dishes you’re going to change the character of the dish. Feel free to experiment with cool season veggies, but despite the name (which I got from the original half-remembered recipe), this is cold summer pasta dish.

1 pkg pasta of your choice (preferably flavored)
Cherry or grape tomatoes
1 12oz pkg frozen peas
4 zucchini or yellow squash
Olive oil, or flavored olive oil (such as Boyajian)

Cook pasta according to package instructions. While you’re waiting for the water to boil and cooking the pasta, slice and saute the squash in olive oil in a large skillet until just tender, but not falling apart. Zap peas in the microwave according to package instructions. (I use peas that are microwaved in the bag.)

Drain the pasta. Do not rinse! Cool in colander a little while.  Drizzle with olive oil. I prefer flavored oils with an olive oil base for this. Toss with squash, peas and tomatoes when it’s cooled enough not to partially cook them. I use a pair of tongs for this.

Cover the bowl and chill in the refrigerator until cool, 3-4 hours. (You can wait and top with the tomatoes at serving, but I prefer to toss them in earlier so they can pick up the flavored oil more.) If you’re going with Mediterranean flavors, as I prefer, and have some fresh basil on hand, you can toss some ripped up fresh basil leaves into the mix as well. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese before serving, if you wish. By the way…the peas do tend to sink a bit, so dig deep when tossing before serving, scooping down to the bottom of the bowl.

As a main dish, this would probably serve at least 5 people, as a side dish I can’t even guess…something just short of infinite. 😉


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