Sunday, July 12, 2015

My Homemade Pasta Primavera

"Primavera" means spring, and this dish often highlights spring flavors. But as long as the vegetables are fresh and bright, any season's produce will do. 

I may be dating myself back to the Neolithic Era, but the first time I made this dish, I served it to my Jazzercise instructor who had come over to meet my five-day-old first-born.

Yes. I said Jazzercise. I loved everything about Jazzercise, from the legitimate aerobic workouts and sassy choreography to the super chic outfits. Think pale pink leg warmers, high-top Reeboks, and leotards with leg openings cut practically up to the waist. 

Hey, this was the eighties, and this was how we rolled.

Such a devotee was I that I Jazzercised right up to the day I went into labor. Mhmm. Danced my way through all four of my pregnancies, as a matter of fact, and loved every minute of it. The babies did too - they would lie still and quiet while I was at class, but as soon as I sat down in the car to drive away, each one of them would stir to action and begin her own little in utero workout.

So it stands to reason that my instructor, Robin, felt invested in this newborn child of mine, and asked to come over to meet her during my two-week hiatus before returning to class.

"Of course," I must have said. "Come for lunch. I'll whip up a little something."

"Oh, no. Don't go to any trouble," Robin undoubtedly protested. "You just had a baby!"

"Don't worry, I'll keep it simple."

Well. I might have lied a little bit. But honestly, my fresh and festive homemade pasta primavera looks like a lot more work that it actually is. Over the years, I've streamlined the process to keep each step as simple as possible, and this delicious, healthy, family-pleasing dish is well worth the modest effort.

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1 box pasta. (Let's be honest. The tri-color rotini is the cutest choice. But any color or shape will work.)

1 bottle Italian dressing

Assorted vegetables:
snap peas,
summer squash,
and/or whatever you like

Other options:
feta cheese
black olives
artichoke hearts

1. Cook and drain the pasta according to package directions. Plop it into a big bowl.

2. Set a big pot of water to boiling.

3. Keeping each type of vegetable quarantined from the others, chop into bite-size pieces and drop into the boiling water.

4. Cook only briefly, two or three minutes, depending on the type of vegetable and the size of the pieces, until just tender.

5. Use a slotted spoon to fish out the pieces and add them to the pasta bowl.

6. Using the same boiling water, drop in the next type of vegetable, and repeat the process.

7. Stir the pasta and veggies together and add about 1/4 cup of Italian dressing. Refrigerate for several hours, until chilled..

8. Just before serving, stir in ample portions of salami, cut into quarters, crumbled feta, sliced black olives, canned artichoke hearts, or whatever else you have dreamed up. Add more dressing if necessary.

* * * * *

This may sound like a lot of fuss for a simple salad, but trust me, if I managed to make this meal while wearing a sleeping five-day-old infant in a front pack (oh, yes, I did). you can pull it off just fine.

At the time of this photo, my first-born was already a few weeks old, but this is exactly how she looked, sleeping inside my front pack, as I chopped, boiled and stirred my way through my first homemade pasta primavera.

And yes, she really was born with that much hair. 

I was lucky. Robin came a few minutes early, so while I made the last-minute adjustments to the salad, she held my still-sleepy baby girl and whispered a few of our favorite work-out tunes to her, gently stepping through the routines as she sang.

My first-born slept on like a dream.

Our lunch was ready in a snap.

And Robin and I enjoyed a special meal that I will never forget.

My first-born has grown up to love my homemade pasta primavera, 

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