summer produce

The first book I bought after getting divorced was Glamour magazine’s “Gourmet On The Run.”

Having spent four years with a man who insisted on well-done steak and lunch meat in his salad, I’d decided to use my newly single status to expand my cooking repertoire. Besides, I thought: How much fun would it be to cook on a date rather than eat out?

Turns out, not much.

There was the guy who sighed and looked sad when I served him spaghetti.

The man who preferred knocking back a bottle of bourbon to the Cornish game hens I’d made.

And the boy who ruined my primavera.

This was the 1980s — a decade in which I couldn’t step foot in an Italian restaurant without ordering pasta primavera. So imagine my thrill to find a recipe for the cream- and Parmesan-coated spaghetti and vegetables in my new cookbook.

The day of my date with primavera boy, I left work early and spent a good two hours julienning and steaming vegetables and concocting some sort of wine- and clam juice-based broth. I poured in copious amounts of cream, put the pasta on to boil and tossed everything together just before my date was supposed to arrive.

Only he didn’t.

So I waited.

And waited.

And waited some more … all the while watching my pasta primavera turn into a gloopy, gloppy mess.

An hour past the appointed time, Primo Boy showed up at my door.

“Hello,” he drawled, leaning against the doorframe and smiling up at me through a thicket of dark, curly hair. “I’m late.”

“Yes, you are,” I said, closing the door on him and dumping my primavera in the trash.

From then on, I let the boys take me to dinner, where I happily ordered pasta primavera.

Until I met my husband.

He never sighs when I serve him spaghetti. He detests bourbon. And last night, he ate my pasta primavera (my own concoction, which takes 30 minutes, requires no julienning and has just a touch of cream).

Best of all, he was on time.

pasta dish

Pasta Primavera

The problem with the primaveras of my youth was soggy vegetables and a heavy sauce. I’ve lightened the cream and cheese load and made the dish more interesting by using an assortment of veggies from the garden, which I keep slightly crunchy in the finished dish. Feel free to use any vegetables you want. Just be sure to make it for people who show up on time … once it’s mixed together, it waits for no man.

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 chile de arbol (optional)
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 small fennel bulb, diced
  • 1 large carrot, scrubbed and diced
  • 1 yellow beet (raw), peeled and diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon rosemary, minced
  • 1 small zucchini, cut into 1/4-inch rounds
  • 1 cup green beans
  • 1 cup sugar snap peas
  • 1/2 cup vermouth or other dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1/4 cup basil, chopped
  • 1/4 cup parsley, chopped
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 3/4 pound spaghetti

Place a large pot of water over high heat and bring to a boil.

As you’re waiting for the water to boil, pour the olive oil into a large saute pan and place over medium-high heat.

When the oil is shimmering, add the chile de arbol (if using) and saute until it’s sizzling.

Remove the chile, then add the onion, fennel, carrot and beet. Season with salt and pepper and saute over low heat until the onion is translucent, about 10 minutes.

Add the garlic, oregano and rosemary and saute an additional minute.

Add the green beans, zucchini and sugar snap peas and season again with salt and pepper. Stir well and cook over low heat until the zucchini is tender, about 5 minutes.

pasta veggies 2

Your pasta water should be boiling by now. While the vegetables are cooking, generously salt the boiling water, then add the spaghetti and cook it according to package directions. When it’s done, reserve 1 cup of the cooking water, then drain the pasta.

Add the wine and cream to the vegetables and bring to a boil. Cook until the sauce slightly thickens, about 2 minutes.

Add the cheese, basil, parsley and lemon zest, then stir in the cooked spaghetti. Toss well, adding the cooking liquid to lighten the mixture and ensure that sauce coats every strand of pasta. (You’ll probably use 3/4 cup.)

Serve immediately. This makes enough for 4-6 punctual people.