Legend has it that this pasta was invented by Sirio Maccioni, owner of the fabled Le Cirque, during a trip to Nova Scotia. Maccioni was tasked with cooking a meal for a group of culinary luminaries, but when it came time for him to cook, he wasn’t able to find any of the ingredients he needed for the dish he had planed. Instead, he scraped together a pasta using the ingredients that were in the fridge: asparagus, broccoli, peas, mushrooms and zucchini with a cream sauce.
It was a hit and soon landed on Le Cirque’s menu, prepared tableside. But somewhere between Le Cirque’s glamorous Midtown dining room, and the strip-mall pasta chains dotting the suburban landscape, Maccioni’s simple pasta inspired by spring became a cloying creamy mess synonymous with bad 80s cuisine.
Up here in the northern latitudes, the snow has finally melted and a recent trip to the market revealed a bounty of fresh spring veggies, including snap peas, asparagus, and baby ramps.
Inspired by my haul, I decided to come up with my own lighter version of this new American classic. My pasta primavera is chock full of sweet asparagus, crisp snap peas and garlicky ramps with each piece of farfalle gently kissed with a light glaze of cream and Parmesan.
Full of vegetables, lighter than the original, and taking about ten minutes to prepare, this spring pasta makes for the perfect weekend brunch or weeknight dinner.
For the snap peas, if you snap off the stem end of the pod and peel it back towards the other end of the pod, you’ll be able to easily remove the tough fibrous parts of the pod without having to use a knife.
By the time you read this there’s a good chance that the baby ramps have grown up, so just chop them in half or into thirds so they are easy to eat. If you can’t find any ramps, you can substitute spring onions or garlic scapes instead, or better yet, use whatever vegetables represent spring in your part of the world.
Learn the interesting background to this dish in a full post on the Fresh Tastes blog. Serve it with a glass of wine.
- 200 grams (7 ounces) farfalle
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 100 grams (3.5 ounces) asparagus, (2 large stalks) thick ends peeled then sliced
- 100 grams (3.5 ounces) snap peas, trimmed and sliced in half diagonally
- 100 grams (3.5 ounces) baby ramps
- 30 grams (1 ounce) Parmesan cheese
- 1/3 cup cream
- 1/4 cup minced Italian parsley
- In a large pot, add enough salt so that the water tastes salty. Bring the water to a boil.
- Cook the pasta according to the package directions (mine was 7-8 minutes)
- When your pasta is about 5 minutes from being done, heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat until hot.
- Add the asparagus and snap peas and sauté until bright green, but still crisp.
- Add the ramps and continue to sauté, seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.
- If you've timed things well, your pasta should be just about done. Drain the pasta.
- Add the cheese and cream to the vegetables and then add the drained pasta and parsley. Toss to coat and adjust salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve immediately.
Yield: 3-4 servings
Marc Matsumoto is a culinary consultant and recipe repairman who shares his passion for good food through his website norecipes.com. For Marc, food is a life long journey of exploration, discovery and experimentation and he shares his escapades through his blog in the hopes that he inspires others to find their own culinary adventures. Marc’s been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today, and has made multiple appearances on NPR and the Food Network.