Some dainty daffodils...
Primavera, Printemps, Spring! Call it what you like, but it is burgeoning in the Memphis area. The daffodils are the precursor to all that gorgeous spring weather, and the first have opened in my yard. That means we celebrate. I am going back in time...to the 80's. I know, I know, it gets a bad rap. I lived it, graduated from high school, college, got married and had my first baby (on the last night of the 80's!). It was an epic decade for me, and I am a nostalgic kind of girl. Heck, I cry at airports, watching American Idol and sometimes even the dang news. I pine for the simpler ways, those days of little stress, and I loved the food. Some crazy orange centered daffodils
The 80's was when I learned to cook. I made stuffed Cornish hens for my roommates, dabbled in vegetarianism, ate my first avocado. I ate my way around London, Seattle and Miami. I remember many food moments.
Once, my dad came to Iowa City to visit me and we went to dinner at an Italian restaurant and I ordered Pasta Primavera. It was an amazing dish, a perfect example of the 80's, fresh vegetables, pasta and a cream sauce. It wasn't heavy, the colors were amazing, and it has stayed with me for years. So in honor of the first daffodils of the season, we make Primavera. Where else would I look for a recipe than the Silver Palate and the New Basics? These gems are the bibles of 80's cooking. They are packed with recipes and so much information about ingredients and cooking. My books are falling apart, are written in and stuffed with little scraps of papers and cards. I found 2 versions, one with creme fraiche and the other with a simple olive oil based sauce. I decided to merge the 2 and make my own with a little ricotta and cottage cheese (trust me)! Don't get me wrong, I would probably love a full cream version, but we do need to keep things a little lighter, and ricotta is a personal favorite. The cottage cheese is kind of a crap shoot here, not sure how it will do. I never buy the 4% fat, although it truly tastes the best. I despise the 2% and find the 0% fat is perfectly palatable, and it seems to melt when I put it on my omelet. So I decided to go with the non fat. I will say that the 4% would probably make the sauce richer. But we ate it all, no one complained a bit.
Primavera Has Sprung Pasta
Linguine or other flat pasta
1 cup assorted colorful peppers cut in strips
½ red onion sliced thin
½ zucchini, sliced
½ yellow squash, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
1 cup non fat cottage cheese
½ cup part skim ricotta
½ cup shredded parmesan
½ cup half and half
salt and pepper
Grilled Shrimp (optional)
Saute all the veggies in olive oil and a pat of butter. Cook on medium low so the veggies don't get brown. Salt and pepper liberally. When they are still a little al dente, remove from heat.
In a blender mix the cottage cheese, ricotta and half and half. Blend until smooth.
Cook the pasta to desired doneness. Drain pasta and put back in pot, add cheese mixture and shredded parmesan and stir well. It will separate a little but keep stirring until the noodles are well coated. Place the creamy noodles in the bottom of serving dish and cover with the colorful vegetables. Pass additional grated parmesan and the grilled shrimp. Deeelicious!