Monday, April 24, 2017

Olive Oil Author Dishes on Pasta Plate

Pasta Primavera 
from Author of 
The Healing Powers of Olive Oil 

By Cal Orey
Pasta can be a filling and perfect dish for springtime. Pasta primavera—pasta with vegetables--is a bit more sophisticated than spaghetti with marinara sauce. The history of pasta primavera traces goes back to Northeastern Canada and New York City. The pairing of lightly cooked pasta and vegetables (usually with a sauce) is popular today as it was back in the seventies and eighties.
When I was in my thirties, I was a green reporter on the beat for national magazines. I was assigned a story on two well-known entertainment celebs in San Francisco. One night after the interview, they took me out to an Italian restaurant in North Beach. I nibbled on French bread while the duo ordered Pasta Primavera for everyone. They told me a surprise was coming to dinner. It was Warren Hinckle, a San Francisco Chronicle columnist. I didn’t know who he was, nor was I familiar with the pasta dish. But I was charmed by both man and food. The next day I learned who I broke bread with and I never forgot the pasta plate either.
This week I made the dish inspired by my past adventure. This quick and budget-friendly recipe is fun to cook and fun to eat. Not to forget a plant-based meal with nutrient-rich vegetables including heart-healthy olive oil is as good as it gets for your health and waistline. It is not as rich or fattening as Fettuccine Alfredo but it is memorable.

Spaghetti Primavera Sierra-Style

2-3 cups cooked whole grain thin spaghetti
2 cups cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, carrots and cauliflower), chopped
2 tablespoons each extra-virgin olive oil and European style butter
1/2 garlic clove, finely chopped
2 large Roma tomatoes, sliced
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated (four cheese mix)
Ground black pepper to taste
Basil, fresh, chopped
½ cup pine nuts
In a medium-size pan, cook pasta per directions. Add cruciferous vegetables after 3-4 minutes, boil till al dente, drain (but keep about 1/3 of the pan water to keep pasta moist). Pour into colander.  In a large frying pan, heat oil and butter over medium heat. Add garlic and tomatoes. Sauté  a few minutes till hot and tender and then fold into pasta vegetable mixture, and add the pasta water. Top with cheese, pepper,, basil, and nuts. Serves 4. Pair with fresh, warm whole grain bread or a baguette (sliced vertically) with butter or drizzle with olive oil. And this flavorful pasta plate pairs well with a berry dessert.

Blackberries and Chocolate Gelato

2 cups chocolate gelato
2 cups fresh blackberries or raspberries
Whipped cream or Greek honey-flavored yogurt (optional)
4 teaspoons dark chocolate, grated (garnish)
Mint leaves (for garnish)
Gather 4 small ramekins. Place ½ scoop of gelato into each one. Top with ½ cup berries and a dollop of whipped cream or yogurt. Garnish with chocolate. Serves 4.

This light Italian-type meal can be served for lunch or dinner. It will thrill guests and fill up family, friends—and is fine for one. It is fail proof and your kitchen will smell divine with garlic lingering. Don’t forget to savor a glass of wine or iced tea with your pasta in the sierras and you’ll feel like the city came to you.

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