Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Taking a Peek at Spring.

The coming of winter heralded itself at the beginning of December with severe cold temperatures, bitter winds and snow.  As much as warmer temperatures are desired, the snow is helping to replenish our reservoirs with much needed water.  However, at this time of year the Celtic celebration of Imbolc (January 31st to February 2nd), or Brighid's Day, serves to focus on the first inklings of spring.  Now depending on the area, delicate snowdrops will begin to push up from the ground and through mounds of snow, as if to say, "Look at me!".  When I lived in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, the snowdrops planted on either side of my front door usually showed up around March 15th; the Ides of March, and my husband's birthday.  Then there is Valentine's Day, February 14th, which celebrates enduring and endearing love between a couple.  While the notion of this holiday is revered for its focus on love; it certainly does not illicit thoughts of spring.

The recipe I'll be focusing on for this blog post is Primavera which, in Italian, means "season of spring".  While gardens are still in a state of hibernation, the local supermarkets are able to supply us with fresh produce from lands still enjoying warmer temperatures.  So while the snow sits on the lawn, we can be cozy warm in our homes, enjoy a meal of spring like vegetables and dream about the true spring to come.  The recipe I'll post is also geared towards two servings, and can easily become that special meal for Valentine's Day.

Creamy Pasta Primavera


Water for steaming
1 cup green beans, cut into 1” pieces
1 cup shelled peas
½ cup diced red bell pepper
2 tsp Italian seasoning mixture
½ tsp ground black pepper
¼ tsp salt
¼ cup diced pancetta (or thick bacon if pancetta not available)
1Tbsp olive oil
¼ cup diced onion
1 tsp minced garlic
½ cup vegetable or chicken stock
¼ cup heavy cream
½ lb cooked cheese, cheese and spinach, or mushroom filled pasta (tortellini, tortellini or mini ravioli)


Fill a large saucepan halfway with water and bring to boil on high heat; insert colander, but do not let it touch the water. Mix together the green beans, peas and bell pepper; steam until vegetables are tender (do NOT overcook). Place in bowl; gently mix in Italian seasoning, black pepper and salt; set aside.

In a large skillet, fry pancetta, on medium-high heat, until crisp and remove to paper towel to drain. Add in olive oil and sauté onion till tender. Add garlic, stock and cream; bring mixture to a boil; whisk until mixture begins to thicken. Remove from heat; mix in cooked pasta, steamed vegetables, crisp pancetta and serve.

Note: grilled chicken or shrimp can be added to this dish

Makes 2 servings.

Mary Cokenour

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