I’m writing to clear up a misconception and to debunk the myth of a well known Italian pasta dish associated with this time of the year, Pasta Primavera. You know, that hodgepodge of vegetables and pasta in an over done cream sauce that is supposed to represent the fresh vibrant flavors of spring. The resulting dish is often a poor imitation of Pasta Primaverile, pasta made during the season of spring in Italy. There it might be called pasta e verdure (pasta and vegetables) with aromatic herbs and fresh brightly colored springtime vegetables like asparagus, baby peas or tiny green beans. The dish is made with al dente pasta finished with a soffritto of garlic ,extra virgin olive oil and Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. Italians believe that less is more. Perfectly fresh vegetables, artisan pasta, simple preparation, avoid the creamy sauce. That’s how my friends and family in Italy celebrate spring.
It is generally believed that Pasta Primavera was created in NYC in the 1970’s by Sirio Maccioni, owner of Le Cirque,a French restaurant in Manhattan. The dish achieved its star status when the food editor from the NY Times ate it, loved it and promptly wrote about it in an article praising the light flavor and “subtle” sauce of the dish making it a fashionable choice along the Upper East Side. This is probably still the best almost Italian interpretation of the dish outside of Italy. Along the way there have been many permutations and variations. I have seen recipes for several “unItalian” versions of this dish including creamy tortelloni chicken primavera, a smoky primavera made with Gouda cheese, a primavera made with evaporated milk , primavera with cashews and almonds and a recipe found on the Dummies.com web site made with low fat milk and vegetable broth that looked like someone threw up. And I haven’t even mentioned all the pre-packaged versions found in the refrigerated section of Target.
Then there are the cross-cultural reinterpretations like pasta primavera spring rolls, Thai Pasta Primavera made with rice noodles, coconut milk and red curry paste and for salad lovers, pasta primavera salad dosed with bottled Italian dressing. Quick and easy yes, Italian no. Try a pinzimomio instead for an authentic Italian salad experience. There’s even a Camp and Trail Pasta Primavera for hikers, campers and outdoors enthusiasts made with Wheatex, a textured wheat protein that mimics the texture and appearance of food.
Finding an authentic Pasta Primaverile. Molto difficile