It translates to “Spring Pasta” from Italian, so forgive me for assuming that Pasta Primavera is a classic Italian springtime dish. But while primavera looks elegant, it turns out that pasta primavera was invented in Nova Scotia during the summer of 1975. The bottom line is that we can make macaroni and cheese with vegetables any time of the year, as summer and fall are probably the best seasons to do so, because they offer the freshest produce. More than spring. Since Pasta Primavera is an American dish, we can use American cheeses if we want. In the end, we’re talking about mac cheese with extra vegetables, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Mac ‘n Cheese Primavera is an effective and delicious way to eat vegetables. It hardly takes longer to make the entire dish from scratch than the prepacked, veggie-free version.
This convenient Mac ‘n Cheese Primavera has a smooth, non-lumpy cheese sauce and the dent vegetables. I don’t sprinkle them with breadcrumbs and bake them because that makes it difficult to control the cooking, and possibly overcooking, of the vegetables.
The most popular recipes for pasta primavera include tomatoes, sweet peppers and other vegetables from the deepest to summer, as well as broccoli and peas, which come earlier. Whatever you use, the primary task of this recipe is to cook the vegetables to perfection. The most reliable way to do this is to steam the vegetables separately, shock them with cold water to stop cooking and keep them crisp and add them to the semi-finished product.
Today’s recipe for early summer Mac ‘n Cheese Primavera features courses of green and yellow zucchini and fresh herbs like parsley and/or basil. Since zucchini is the only vegetable I cook with, I don’t have to worry about overcooking some and undercooking others, so I’ll skip the steaming and fry the zucchini for a while before adding the pasta, which is fresh from the boiling water and still damp. Dripping water from the noodles into the pan cooks the zucchini in place, while we make the sauce on top with a handful of shredded cheese.
You can use this recipe to track the harvest by incorporating any available product. Vegetables like peas and broccoli, which often need just a little cooking, can be incorporated in the same way as zucchini. Steam hearty veggies like broccoli or carrots before putting them into the silky, cheesy final product.
Mac ‘n Cheese Primavera a la Zucchine
This dish combines the best elements of two classic pasta dishes: Pasta Primavera and Mac ‘n Cheese. It is very flexible, in the type of cheese you add as well as which vegetables to include.
- 1 pound pasta – preferably short, short and hollow, such as penne, which are essentially like unbent elbows and hold sauce similarly
- 1 pound zucchini, cut into circles about ½ inch thick
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tablespoon mustard powder
- 1 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ lemon, juice and peel
- 1 cup milk
- ½ pound of shredded cheese: I love the combination of sharp cheddar, orange cheddar, and fontina
- Salt – for pasta water and for seasoning
- Fresh parsley and/or basil
Boil four liters of salted water (about 1 tablespoon) and cook the pasta. While the pasta is boiling, add the zucchini, butter, oil, and garlic to a deep skillet or heavy-bottomed saucepan and sauté for five minutes over low/medium heat. When the noodles are cooked, drain them quickly and add them to the zucchini, but do not stir them together.
Sprinkle the mustard powder, nutmeg, garlic powder, black pepper, lemon juice, and peel over the pasta, but do not stir it.
Add the milk and about a quarter of the grated cheese and stir. Add a quarter of the cheese and stir again. Keep adding cheese and stirring until fully combined and keep stirring until it turns into a great cheese sauce. If it is too dry or starts to burn, lower the heat and add more milk or some pasta water to break it up. Add salt to taste. He will need some, even if the cheese is salty. Top it with fresh herbs and serve.