The warm afternoons that we have been enjoying in North Texas mean that spring has finally arrived. My herb garden is planted, my tank tops and sundresses are unpacked from storage, and the Mayflies are taking over our house. This week I celebrated the changing seasons with a dinner of colorful, healthy Pasta Primavera. This is a very simple recipe and makes a plenty of leftovers to be enjoyed later. Pasta Primavera is a traditional italian dish that incorporates a small-spiraled pasta with lots of fresh, springtime vegetables in a light cream sauce. The hardest part is chopping all of the vegetables! It is as colorful as a spring garden and bursts with zesty lemon pepper flavor. You won’t regret making this light, veggie-packed dinner tonight.
Here is how to do it:
INGREDIENTS (makes approximately 6 servings)
1 tbsp butter
2 chicken breasts, diced into 1 inch cubes (** TIP: if dicing your own chicken makes you squirm, borrow some latex gloves from the butcher to use so you don’t have to touch it with your hands!)
salt and freshly-ground pepper
1 box bowtie pasta
1/3 cup of lowfat milk
1 cup of freshly grated parmesean cheese
1 tbsp fresh basil, chopped
1/2 lemon, zested and juiced
2 tsp olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 sliced yellow squash
1 head chopped broccolini
1/2 cup chopped portobello mushrooms
1/2 cup chopped asparagus
1/2 cup frozen sweet corn
1/2 cup chopped carrots
Start by cooking the pasta according to instructions. The thickness of bowtie pasta means that it takes longer to cook and must be started early. While the pasta is underway, sautee the chicken breast cubes in 1 tbsp melted butter and season with salt and pepper. Cook thoroughly (10 minutes over medium-high heat) and set aside to incorporate later.
Set the chicken pieces aside on a paper towel to drain off any excess grease. In the remaining butter, sweat the garlic until translucent and fragrant.
Add the vegetables (yes, all of them) to the pan and drizzle with olive oil. The olive oil keeps plenty of moisture in the pan and prevents the vegetables from smoking or drying out. Season generously with salt and freshly-cracked pepper. This is one of the few opportunities you have to add seasonings to this low-fat dish. Lower the heat to medium and let the vegetables cook through for approximately 5-7 minutes, stirring regularly.
When the vegetables are cooked to the point that they are hot and firm, but not mushy, you may begin adding the ingredients for the sauce. Add the chicken back to the vegetable skillet. Pour in 1/3 cup of lowfat milk, lemon zest, and parmesean to the vegetables. Simmer for 2 minutes while the pasta finishes cooking.
When the pasta is cooked and drained, add all of the ingredients to one pot (veggies, chicken & pasta). I used my my pasta pot to finish the dish because I knew it had the largest capacity. Squeeze 1/2 lemon over the pasta and add any additional seasonings to taste.
Let cool for 5 minutes to allow the sauce to thicken and absorb into the first layer of the pasta. If you wish, you can add a bit of heavy cream or some flour to thicken the sauce, but you can trust me that this tastes great without these added calories!
Top with a little bit of extra freshly shredded parmesean and serve. We were both famished and ate ours in no time.
You are going to be so pleased with yourself after making this easy-peasy pasta primavera. It is a great way to sneak some vegetables into your diet — even some vegetables you have never tried before! Broccolini and squash are certainly not regulars in my kitchen, but we are loving them this week.
Happy Monday and see y’all next week!