jason's pasta primavera

below is the third installment from jason, my taste tester, who - since his macaroni and cheese success and egg sandwich experiment - has decided cooking isn't really too hard. he has occasional food projects, just like me, that he wants to share. here's his method for pasta primavera.

With my friend visiting from out of town, I wanted to make a good meal that he would like. He told me that he likes pasta primavera, a dish I've never made before and have eaten only a couple of times -- rare enough I couldn't remember what the dish was. Basically, pasta primavera is a pasta focused on vegetables, and sometimes has meat.

I looked for recipes online but didn't really find anything that struck my interest. I found one that was close enough to what I wanted that I could use as a guideline, which came from Cooking Light. I didn't quite like the recipe there, most specifically their sauce is corn starch and half-and-half. I'm not a fan of Alfredo sauce and certainly did not like the thought of a "light" Alfredo. Instead, I wanted to just have a simple butter and garlic sauce. I also like short cut pasta, so I used rotini instead of fettuccine.

Like most pasta dishes, the exact amount of each ingredient doesn't really matter that much, so I mostly just put in how much looked right, or whatever was convenient based on the size from the store. For example I just bought a small box of grape tomatoes, I didn't really care how much was in there, I think it was half a pound.

jason's pasta primavera
30 minutes, serves 4-6

For the pasta:
8oz frozen green beans
8oz frozen broccoli
16oz rotini pasta
8oz grape tomatoes, cut in half
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 green pepper, seeds removed and cut into thin strips
4-6 cloves garlic, minced
4 tablespoons butter (half a stick)
1/2 cup grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese
salt and pepper

For the meat:
2 chicken breasts
olive oil
Italian seasoning
salt and pepper

Sometimes I make up a batch of chicken breasts to use throughout the week in pasta dishes as well as salads. For this pasta this is what I had already done, so I just pulled it out of the refrigerator for this dish. Here is my standard chicken recipe:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  2. Put about 1 tbsp of olive oil into a glass baking pan, just enough to coat the bottom of the chicken.
  3. Put chicken breasts in the pan.
  4. Cover chicken breasts lightly in olive oil.
  5. Season well with salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning.
  6. Flip the chicken (add just a little more oil if enough did not transfer from the pan).
  7. Season well with salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning.
  8. Place chicken in the oven until reaches a temperature of 165F.
You really want to use a thermometer with temperature alert on the chicken, and don't just bake it by the time. You want to cook meat as minimally as possible and still stay safe. Chicken especially dries out quickly if you let it go too long. Let the chicken cool (to keep all of the juice from flowing out), then you can cut it into bite sized strips.

Now you can start on the pasta dish.
  1. Bring a pot of water to boil.
  2. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a pan, then add minced garlic, green peppers, and tomatoes and saute until the peppers are starting to get tender and the tomatoes starting to break down. Add the cooked and cooled chicken towards the end, just long enough to reheat it.
  3. When the water boils, add broccoli and green beans. Boil for several minutes, until almost tender. Pull the vegetables out with a spider or dipping a colander.
  4. Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook until al dente (see box for timing).
  5. When the pasta is done, reserve a ladle-full (1/4 to 1/2 cup) of the pasta water, drain the pasta and return to the pot. Toss in the vegetables and chicken, and add half a stick of butter.
  6. Stir to melt the butter to coat the pasta.
  7. If the sauce is too thick, add small amounts of the reserved pasta water.
  8. Add the grated cheese, this will also thicken the sauce to balance out with pasta water if needed.
  9. Add salt and pepper to taste.

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