‘Cubist’ pasta primavera recipe
STEPS 6 INGREDIENTS 10 (inc. salt etc.) TIME 45-50 MINS
This very popular Italian dish is a vegetarian delight. It's flexible pasta-wise too, as you can serve it with pretty much any pasta shapes you like; here I’ve used long n' wide ‘pappardelle’ (a non-colored brand so as to better show off primavera’s wonderfully colorful sauce).
Unlike many pasta primavera recipes, this version of my mamma-in-law Marisa’s does not feature butter or milk, meaning the sauce isn’t at all creamy. Instead the overriding taste of this dish is one of sumptuous sweetness. This comes largely from the fried red and orange capsicums (or peppers to us Brits).
Meanwhile the texture of the sauce, with its delectable eggplant, molten zucchini and rich tomatoes, is just firm enough to have the veggies hold their cube shapes (it’s all square chopping here… thus this recipe’s name) but soft enough to offer a nice amount of squish.
It's perfectly mouth-watering stuff.
- 2 medium-sized capsicums/peppers (1 red / 1 orange)
- 2 small thin zucchini/courgettes
- 2 small thin eggplants/aubergines
- 400g/14oz pasta shapes of your choice (larger than macaroni)
- 2 fresh medium tomatoes
- 2 garlic cloves
- Frying/sunflower oil
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Tomato paste/purée
- 2 frying pans (ideally with lids)
- 1 deep pasta pan
- Absorbent kitchen paper
STEP 1 - First we’ll get all the preparation out of the way. As you may have guessed from the cubist name of this pasta primavera recipe, there is a little chopping involved!
- Tomatoes: stand these in a bowl of boiling water (use a kettle for speed) to start loosening their skins.
- Zucchini/courgette: while the toms soak, chop off the zucchini ends and slice lengthways into quarters. Cut away central seeded sections and chop the rest into tiny cubes.
- Capsicums/Peppers: remove stalks and cut the rest in half. Scoop away any remaining seeds and cube the remaining flesh.
- Eggplants: remove ends and cut into quarters lengthways. Chop away the seeded central part and cube the rest. Pop these cubes directly into a bowl of lightly salted water to avoid the eggplant turning brown in the air.
- Garlic: finally, de-end and peel the cloves, then carefully drain the soaked tomatoes, peel and quarter them.
STEP 2 - Cover the base of one frying pan with frying/sunflower oil (not olive), heat through on medium heat hob, and add one garlic clove.
- Fry this clove until it turns golden (roughly 4-5 mins).
- Then add all the chopped peppers and zucchini, plus a teaspoon of salt.
- Cover and fry, stirring regularly, until pepper turns soft (approx. 25 minutes).
STEP 3 - If multitasking is not for you, finish step 2 before moving on. But really, it isn’t complicated (I promise)…
- With the peppers frying away, cover the base of your second frying pan with frying/sunflower oil and warm through on medium hob.
- When hot, fry the other garlic clove until golden then add the eggplant, squeezing out any excess water as you place the cubes in the pan. Cover with lid.
STEP 4 - Fry the eggplant until it turns very soft (roughly 15 mins).
- Then use a large spoon to remove the eggplant cubes and place on a plate covered with kitchen paper.
STEP 5 - Drain away a little of the remaining oil and add the tomatoes and half a teaspoon of salt.
- Cover for 4-5 minutes to soften these toms, then remove lid and break into pieces with a wooden spoon.
- Add a squirt of tomato paste and cook toms on a low-medium heat (without lid) until they lose their sourness (usually 5-6 mins).
STEP 6 - Add the eggplant to your pan of cooked pepper and zucchini, remove garlic cloves and take off the heat.
- Cook up your pasta as per its packet’s timings in well-salted water (roughly 2 tablespoons), then drain.
- Just pop a low fire under the sauce to reheat a little.
- Now a final choice: either mix the drained pasta through with your veggie sauce directly, or serve the sauce directly on top of each pasta serving (like below).
Next time… primavera’s sauce is so flexible you can really throw in whatever you like. Many American cooks like to add a ‘bit of bird’ to make chicken pasta primavera, or you can add whatever other veg you have to hand: butternut squash maybe, or carrots, onions… it’s up to you.
Enjoyed this pasta primavera recipe?
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