This Pasta Primavera evokes so many memories. It’s one of the first recipes I wanted to post here because it’s been a staple in my recipe collection for years. I’ve thought a lot about the evolution of this dish and how each stage reflects a different season in my life. I thought about who I cooked it for and where I cooked it.
I was really surprised at how emotional I became during this little trip down memory lane. Food is so nostalgic for me. My sister loves fashion and she can describe the outfit someone wore at any given occasion any number of years ago. She may be able to tell us how we were was dressed, but I can tell her what we ate! My memory is very much dictated by food, that’s for sure.
There are many different variations of Pasta Primavera, or “Spring Pasta,” none of them complicated by any means. This is exactly the kind of food I like to cook – simplicity at its best, yet full of impact when it arrives at the table. You can smell the barbeque smokiness of the sausages and the saltiness of the cheese. The pasta provides a perfect background to showcase the reds, oranges, yellows and purples of the roasted vegetables. There’s an eye pleasing pop of green from the spring peas and fresh herbs. It tastes better than it looks, which for me, is the cornerstone of a great plate of food.
The first person I associate with this recipe is my Uncle David. I really wish I got to see more of this guy, but unfortunately we live about 6,000 miles apart! He’s a fantastic cook and an even better cocktail-maker. This is me enjoying the fruits of his labor at his stunning vacation home in Palm Springs. Boy does he make a good Hello Nancy. But that’s a story for another day.
I think David was the first person to introduce a sauce-less pasta to my family. I remember being slightly shocked that there was a different way to prepare pasta other than smothering it with Bolognese or cheese sauce. It honestly seemed revolutionary at the time. David would sauté lots of fresh vegetables in a frying pan and toss them with hot pasta and cheese. He always visits Virginia in the spring, so I think that’s why I associate his pasta with Pasta Primavera. My mom was inspired. It was known as “David’s Pasta” from that moment forward and we began cooking it at home. A lot.
Pasta Primavera takes me back to my early days of cooking when I began to experiment with ingredients, flavors and textures. I’ve settled on a mix of vegetables that I love and can’t seem to get away from, but that’s personal taste. I’ve tried broccoli and green beans before, but I prefer the sweetness of bell peppers, zucchini (courgettes), carrots and onions. The natural sugars caramelize in the oven when the vegetables are roasted and this pairs beautifully with sausage, especially if it’s a spicy one.
Most importantly, this is one of my husband’s favorite meals. I’m pretty sure Gavin was the inspiration behind the sausage. We live in England so it’s practically mandatory . The best sausages I’ve ever had are from a small family butcher in Skipton in North Yorkshire.
We used to live about ten minutes down the road in a little village called Farnhill. We had a lovely deck that overlooked the moors and the Leeds-Liverpool canal. We loved to eat outside and enjoy the view when the weather permitted. Sadly and very unfortunately, this was not often! We made the most of those evenings every chance we got. I laid the table, lit the candles and we’d have a long, relaxing night enjoying our meal, waving to the little canal boats sailing past and watching the sun set behind the hills.
Those moments were so precious. There’s nothing like endless nights all to yourself in the early years of marriage. That little stone terrace in Farnhill was the first house we bought together, the first house we really made a home. It’s no wonder my food memory sends emotions bubbling to the surface!
Give this a try – put your own spin on it, toss in whatever vegetables you love, make it for your friends on a warm spring night, just enjoy it! I guarantee it will become a part of your permanent collection as well.
- 1 red onion, sliced in half moons
- 1 red pepper, thinly sliced
- 1 yellow pepper, thinly sliced
- 1 large zucchini (courgette), thinly sliced
- 1 large carrot, thinly sliced
- 2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1¼ teaspoons kosher salt, plus more for pasta water
- ½ teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
- 1 teaspoon Herbs de Provence or dried oregano
- Approx. 1 pound or 400 grams link sausages, any flavor you like
- ⅔ cup frozen peas, thawed:
- ¾ pound or 350 grams whole wheat penne pasta
- 1 large handful basil, roughly chopped
- 1 large handful Italian flat leaf parsley roughly chopped
- 1 cup or 85 grams of a good, aged parmesan cheese, grated
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
- Spread the chopped vegetables in an even layer on a baking sheet so the vegetables cook and caramelize evenly. I normally have to use two baking sheets. Drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper and the herbs de Provence or dried oregano. Give the mixture a toss until evenly coated.
- Roast the vegetables for 20 to 30 minutes (stir at least once during cooking) until the vegetables are tender and lightly browned. Set aside once done.
- Meanwhile, barbeque the sausages. We cook ours over a medium high flame on our gas barbeque. Turn the sausages every 3 to 4 minutes so they brown evenly on the outside. It usually takes us about 12 minutes until they are fully cooked. If you don't have a barbeque, the sausages can be cooked under a hot broiler (or grill if you're in the UK) using the same process and cooking times.
- Cook the pasta. Bring a large pot of water to the boil and add a good pinch of salt. Add the pasta and follow the directions on the package to cook al dente. It should still have a little bite and definitely should not be mushy.
- Meanwhile, slice the sausages on an angle. Transfer the roasted vegetables and the sausages to a large bowl.
- Use a colander to drain the cooked pasta and drizzle with a little olive oil.
- Add the hot pasta to the sausage and vegetables.
- Add the peas, basil, parsley and half of the parmesan cheese.
- Toss together and serve with extra cheese on the side.