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Step-by-Step Pasta Primavera
For the written recipe, click here.
I love one dish dinners which incorporate a wide variety of colors and this dish pleases everyone in our house. It is easy to fix and delcious. No one would ever guess that dinner took less than 30 minutes to prepare. Feel free to substitute ingredients if you find you either don't have something it calls for or your family doesn't like one of the ingredients. The original recipe called for only a few asparagus spears and 2 cups of snow peas. My children aren't fond of snow peas so I decided to use a large amount of fresh asparagus instead. I also used frozen broccoli florets instead of fresh and it worked out fine. Feel free to use any variety of fresh or frozen vegetables that you have on hand.
Mmmmm...what a beautiful mixture of vegetables. I assembled my green onions, 1 pound of asparagus, 1 cup of broccoli florets, red bell pepper, carrots and mushrooms. Remember, this recipe is very adaptable to what you like and what is in your refigerator. By the time I was done, the ingredient list looked almost nothing like the original recipe.
Start with peeling the carrots. If I am not in a hurry, I let the children help with this job.
Once peeled, washed and the ends trimmed, get ready to dice the carrots. I start with cutting the carrots length-wise. It keeps the carrots from rolling all around while I chop them. If you have a little food processor available, this is a great recipe to use it on.
I show the carrots cut side up, but when I am ready to chop, I turn them cut side down. It kinda reminds me of the old-fashioned rhyme, "I eat my peas with honey, I've done it all my life, it makes my peas taste funny, but it keeps them on my knife." Rolling carrots are very dangerous to
fingers when a sharp knife is around.
Once the carrots are cut side down on the cutting board, start chopping them
into half moon slices.
If my kids likes cooked carrots, I would leave them like this. However, they are
not very fond of them so I normally chop them a little smaller so the carrots are
harder to remove at the table.
Cross cutting with a long butcher's knife is an easy way to turn
sliced carrots into diced carrots.
This is a fine enough dice. If carrots aren't your favorite, but you still want
them in the recipe - keep chopping.
Once the seed pod has been removed from the red pepper, wash it and drain it.
Once again, any color pepper will do well - just remember to think about the overall
color combination. I had red peppers on hand and decided that they would complement
the other green ingredients quite nicely.
Unlike carrots, peppers are much more easily chopped if it is left inside up on the cutting board. I may use sharp knives, but trying to cut a pepper from the outside never works well for me. The inside flesh of the pepper is more easily penetrated than the outside.
I cut my pepper into long strips and then halved the strips. Make sure the size
of your vegetable pieces complement each other as well as their color.
Don't make some veggies big and some tiny.
Start with however many green onions you have on hand. I had six this day. If you don't have any, any diced onion will work well. Make sure to always rinse the scallions well.
This is especially true if you are going to eat them raw.
Begin by slicing off the little roots at the bottom.
Using a long knife simply slice up the scallions.
I like to use all of the scallion that I can in my recipes.
I just hate to waste that good green up at the top.
Today I only had frozen broccoli florets and they work quite nicely. I took them out of the freezer a few minutes early and then chopped them up while still frozen. The florets were fairly big and I didn't want their size to overpower the rest of the ingredients.
I love fresh asparagus - especially when it's on sale for only $1.49 a pound.
Somehow getting it on sale improves the flavor!
In a dish like this, I quickly cut off the bottom inch or so. I know there are purists that say you should never cut the bottom off, but snap it off at the spot it naturally snaps at. However, that entails snapping each spear off seperately - and quite naturally I don't like taking the time to do that. I've also found that I don't ever notice a difference in taste or texture so I simply don't bother. It also keeps peace in the family as my husband hates to see all of those asparagus ends go in the trash.
Once the ends are discarded, cut the spears into approximately 1.5 inch long pieces.
Please do NOT bring out your ruler here! Any size will do, just make sure the spear
lengths are all about equal sized. The length of time it takes asparagus to cook is based
on length and width (or girth) so cut accordingly.
Now, everything is prepped - it's time to move to the stove!
Begin by pressing 2 cloves of garlic into your saute pan and turn the heat up to medium.
As you can see, I have added about 1/2 cup of water to the bottom of the pan. I hate to waste the calories by sauteeing in oil - use water instead - your waistline will thank you. Next, get ready to add your soy sauce. I am not too picky about the type of soy sauce I use - although I did not like the store brand from a national discount chain that I bought one time. I always select the lower sodium soy sauce if I can.
Add about 1 tablespoon of soy sauce. Most nights I don't bother to measure it.
I hate to have to wash all of my measuring spoons - so I normally just pour it in.
Accuracy is important in some things, but not in this dish.
Once the garlic has cooked for about a minute, add the scallions and diced carrots.
These ingredients take longer to soften then the rest - that's why I add them first.
I like to cover my dish at this point. Covering the ingredients while they soften keeps the water from evaporating too quickly and it frees up my hands to do other meal prep.
After about 5 minutes, the carrots should be starting to soften and it's time to add the other ingredients. Be sure to add a little more water as you need along the way.
Add the chopped broccoli florets.
Next add the 1 cup of sliced fresh mushrooms. Remember that the mushrooms
will give off some juice as they cook so you may not need to add any more water.
Next, add the sliced red peppers. Wow, the colors are really starting to look great now.
Now, add the sliced asparagus spears and get ready for the color explosion.
Toss all the ingredients together to make sure it is thoroughly mixed. Once again, I like to cover the dish while the ingredients soften. I find if I sit and stir, I not only get impatient, I end up spilling ingredients all over the stove top and floor. What a waste of great tasting veggies. Once the cover is on, make sure the heat is not too high (leave it a medium setting). The veggies will need only about 5 minutes to soften up nicely. Remember, you don't want to let them overcook or they will be mushy and unappealing.
Now for the sauce. If you don't like soy sauce, rice or almond milk will work just fine.
Add 1 tablespoon flour (I like to use Wondra because it doesn't lump as easily
as regular flour) to 1 cup of soy milk.
Whisk the flour into the milk thoroughly.
Go back and check on the veggies. They are tender enough to eat and not mushy at all.
I added only a twist of salt. I would much rather add salt at the table because
whatever I add while cooking seems to get lost.
Now a twist or two of pepper. Freshly twisted pepper really does taste better.
Now add a teaspoon or so of dried basil. If you have fresh basil, feel free to add it instead. Remember, it will just take quite a bit more than 1 teaspoon.
Slowly add the milk and flour mixture to the vegetables. You only need to heat the mixture.
It will thicken up fairly quickly.
Stir thoroughly so everything is well mixed.
This is the whole grain fettuccine noodles I cooked while preparing the vegetables. It only takes about 10 minutes to cook, but it takes quite a while for the water to heat to boiling. Make sure to start the water heating in plenty of time to get the pasta done when the vegetables are done. Please make sure to use whole grain pasta.
Time to plate it all up. We used just a little fettuccine noodles to make a nice bed for the vegetables.
What a beautiful and tasty combination of fresh and frozen vegetables.
So many healthy dishes - so little time!
For more picture recipes, click here.
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"Wisdom From the Kitchen" | Veg4Health.com Melbourne Florida