Callie’s Cabin: Pasta primavera with city flair (recipe) |

Callie’s Cabin: Pasta primavera with city flair (recipe)

Cal Orey
Callie’s Cabin
A plate full of delicious pasta primavera made with fettuccine, squash, zucchini, red bell pepper, carrots, peas, broccoli, mushrooms and basil. It is topped with freshly grated parmesan cheese.
Getty Images/iStockphoto

Pasta can be a filling and perfect dish for springtime. Pasta primavera — pasta with vegetables — is a bit more sophisticated than spaghetti with marinara sauce. The history of pasta primavera traces goes back to Northeastern Canada and New York City. The pairing of lightly cooked pasta and vegetables (usually with a sauce) is as popular today as it was back in the ‘70s and ‘80s.

When I was in my thirties, I was a green reporter on the beat for national magazines. I was assigned a story on two well-known entertainment celebs in San Francisco. One night after the interview, they took me out to an Italian restaurant in North Beach. I nibbled on French bread while the duo ordered pasta primavera for everyone. They told me a surprise was coming to dinner. It was Warren Hinckle, a San Francisco Chronicle columnist. I didn’t know who he was, nor was I familiar with the pasta dish. But I was charmed by both man and food.

The next day I learned who I broke bread with and I never forgot the pasta plate either.

This week I made the dish inspired by my past adventure. This quick and budget-friendly recipe is fun to cook and fun to eat. Not to forget a plant-based meal with nutrient-rich vegetables including heart-healthy olive oil is as good as it gets for your health and waistline. It is not as rich or fattening as fettuccine alfredo but it is memorable.

Spaghetti Primavera Sierra-Style

2-3 cups cooked whole grain thin spaghetti

2 cups cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, carrots and cauliflower), chopped

2 tablespoons each extra-virgin olive oil and European style butter

½ garlic clove, finely chopped

2 large Roma tomatoes, sliced

½ cup parmesan cheese, grated (four cheese mix)

Ground black pepper to taste

Basil, fresh, chopped

½ cup pine nuts

In a medium-size pan, cook pasta per directions. Add cruciferous vegetables after 3-4 minutes, boil until al dente, drain (but keep about 1/3 of the pan water to keep pasta moist). Pour into colander. In a large frying pan, heat oil and butter over medium heat. Add garlic and tomatoes. Sauté a few minutes until hot and tender and then fold into pasta vegetable mixture, and add the pasta water. Top with cheese, pepper, basil and nuts. Serves four. Pair with fresh, warm whole grain bread or a baguette (sliced vertically) with butter or drizzle with olive oil. And this flavorful pasta plate pairs well with a berry dessert.

Blackberries and Chocolate Gelato

2 cups chocolate gelato

2 cups fresh blackberries

Whipped cream or Greek honey-flavored yogurt (optional)

4 teaspoons dark chocolate, grated (garnish)

Mint leaves (for garnish)

Gather four small ramekins. Place ½ scoop of gelato into each one. Top with ½ cup berries and a dollop of whipped cream or yogurt. Garnish with chocolate. Serves four.

This light Italian-type meal can be served for lunch or dinner. It will thrill guests and fill up family, friends — and is fine for one. It is fail proof and your kitchen will smell divine with garlic lingering. Don’t forget to savor a glass of wine or iced tea with your pasta in the Sierra and you’ll feel like the city came to you.

Motto: Recreating unforgettable meals can take us down memory lane but it also can create new experiences in different environments.

Cal Orey, M.A. Is an author and journalist. Her books include the Healing Powers Series (Vinegar, Olive Oil, Chocolate, Honey, Coffee, and Tea) published by Kensington. (The collection has been featured by the Good Cook Book Club.) Her website is

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