“Primavera” literally means first spring. Pasta primavera is an Italian-American dish that consists of pasta and fresh vegetables. Some recipes include chicken, sausage or shrimp, but the focus of primavera is the vegetables themselves. The dish is typically highlighted by light flavors, aromatic herbs and bright colors.
I have been eagerly awaiting the arrival of English peas and fava beans, (also known as broad beans) at my local farm stand. Finally on a recent outing I found them, a little mound of each just waiting for me, and thought they would make a lovely addition in a pasta primavera.
I decided on a simply cooked pasta, tossed with some fresh ricotta loosened by a little of the pasta cooking water. Topped with a sprinkling of freshly torn mint and green onions it made a wonderful spring luncheon dish that was perfect served at room temperature.
This kind of dish works well with a simple roasted chicken, or a small rack of lamb, and if the weather warm, this would be a wonderful meal savored outside.
1 pound fresh English peas, shelled
1 pound fresh fava beans, shelled (double podding*)
1 pound pasta (spaghetti or linguine)
1 cup ricotta cheese
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan
¼ cup mint, torn in pieces (plus more for garnish)
½ cup sliced spring onions
Salt &freshly ground pepper
Fill a large stockpot with water toss in some salt and bring to a boil; meanwhile prepare an ice bath. Place fava beans in a sieve, and lower into the water. Let water return to a boil, about 1 minute; blanch 1 minute more. Remove sieve from water, and place beans in ice bath. Transfer to a colander; drain. Peel and discard tough outer skins; set favas aside. Using same blanching water and sieve, blanch peas until just tender and bright green, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove sieve from water; transfer peas to ice bath. Transfer peas to a colander, drain and set aside.
Discard blanching water; fill stockpot with fresh water. Add some salt and bring to a boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente.
Meanwhile, combine ricotta, Parmesan, mint, and some salt and pepper to taste. Just before pasta has finished cooking, add 1 cup cooking water to ricotta mixture; stir to combine.
Drain pasta, and transfer to a serving bowl. Add a glug of olive oil and toss. Add ricotta, reserved fava beans, and peas. Toss to combine. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste, sprinkle with mint leaves and green onions; serve.
*Double podding fava beans may seem a bit tedious, but it transforms them from a tough, dull vegetable into tender beans that are beautiful to look at and a treat to eat.