Spring Ahead With Fresh Flavors

Warm weather, blue skies and time spent outdoors are hallmarks of spring. Springtime is a season of rebirth and renewal. That’s evidenced by budding trees and the return of frolicking animals. Spring also can be a time to refresh meal-making.

Now is the time to trade in those hearty, filling dishes that are perfect for cold winter nights for lighter fare. Recipes like “Pasta Primavera” from “Seasoned America” (William Morrow and Company, Inc.) by Chef Paul Prudhomme can be brought out in spring and enjoyed throughout the warmer seasons. In Italian, “primavera” means “spring,” making this classic, vegetable-infused pasta dish a favorite this time of year. The vegetable inclusions below can be switched out for your own favorite produce as well.

Pasta Primavera
Makes about 8 cups

Seasoning Mix:
21⁄2 teaspoon dried sweet basil leaves
11⁄2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
3⁄4 teaspoon white pepper
1⁄2 teaspoon garlic powder
1⁄2 teaspoon onion powder

2 teaspoon olive oil
1 cup thin strips prosciutto
2 cups cauliflower florets
2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
1⁄2 cup sliced carrots (cut on the diagonal)
2 cups sliced zucchini
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
1 cup asparagus tips or 3⁄4 cups snow peas
1 cup chopped green onions
2 cups heavy cream
9 ounces of your favorite pasta

Combine the seasoning mix ingredients thoroughly in a small bowl.

Heat olive oil in a 12-inch skillet over high heat. When oil is very hot, add the prosciutto, cauliflower, mushrooms, carrots, and zucchini. Add the butter and, as it melts, stir in the garlic and the seasoning mix. Stir in asparagus tips or snow peas and green onions. Stir well and cook just until the vegetables are crisp-tender, about 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in the cream and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to medium and cook until the sauce has thickened a bit, about 3 minutes.

Cook the pasta according to package directions; drain. Add the cooked pasta to the skillet, toss well and remove from the heat. Serve immediately.

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