Light Pasta Primavera
Every now and then, I get sick of eating meats of any kind and crave something that is vegetarian and healthy. Pasta Primavera is excellent to satiate such cravings but the creamy Alfredo sauce does quite a number on my guilt gland. So my solution to this persistent guilt is to try something lighter that tastes as good as the original but is easy on the calorie load. This Pasta Primavera sure hits the sweet spot between craving and guilt! I confess that it isn’t entirely a fat-free dish but it since it uses extra virgin olive oil, light creamy feta cheese and some Parmesan cheese it tastes great and it completely avoids heavy cream or butter and that makes it relatively light. I make this pasta when spring is just starting to set in and I can get crisp fresh vegetables (especially new Asparagus spears) from the farmer’s market and also a harvest of fresh herbs from my backyard veggie patch.
1. 1/2 lb Orzo (or any other kind of pasta)
2. 10-12 stalks of fresh green Asparagus
3. 6-7 stalks of Broccolini (also spelled as Brocollini)
4. One fresh red bell pepper
5. One small red onion or 1/2 medium sized onion
6. 2-3 cloves of garlic
7. 3-4 ounces of light creamy style feta (as opposed to the kind that crumbles easily)
8. 3-5 tablespoons of flaked Parmesan cheese (use a knife to cut small chunks out of the block of Parmesan)
9. 3-4 leaves of fresh sage
10. One tablespoon of fresh oregano leaves or marjoram leaves
11. 4-5 fresh basil leaves
12. One tablespoon of chopped fresh chives
13. ½ teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
14. 2-3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
1. Wash all the vegetables and pat them dry with a paper towel (it is important to have them completely dry otherwise the moisture can make them soggy during the cooking process).
2. Peel and chop the onion and the garlic cloves.
3. Cut the fresh veggies (Broccolini, red pepper, Asparagus) in bite-sized pieces.
4. In a large pot, heat 7-8 cups of water to boil the pasta.
5. Heat a medium sized sauce pan and pour 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil in it.
6. When the oil is hot, pour in the chopped onions into the pan and stir.
7. When the onions are slightly cooked (after -2 minutes), add the chopped garlic and the diced red pepper and stir. After a minute or two of cooking, add Asparagus and Broccolini and stir.
8. When water in the pot starts to boil, add the dry pasta and let the pasta cook till it is al dente.
9. In the meantime continue cooking the vegetables in the sauce pan (stir frequently). Make sure the vegetables are not soft or overcooked – they need to be only lightly cooked but still crunchy.
10. Drain the water from the pasta and pour the pasta into a large bowl.
11. While the pasta is still hot, add the stir-fried vegetables on top and stir. Also add the thinly slice the fresh herbs and add to the pasta bowl.
12. Add the feta cheese, an extra tablespoon of olive oil, flaked Parmesan cheese and freshly ground black pepper.