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You probably have heard of, if not eaten, Pasta Primavera, primavera being borrowed from the Italian alla primavera which means “in the style of springtime.” Going back even further, prima is italian for prime or first, and vera comes from the Latin verus, which means “of spring.
Pasta Primavera is generally pasta, of course, with a mixture of vegetables in a light sauce, or simply sprinkled with parmesan cheese. Looking at recipes I see that today’s recipes call for vegetables that are not particularly “the first of spring,” so…
Here is my take on a primavera made with chickpeas (a nod to the italian) and actual vegetables of spring.
- cook the chickpeas. Please cook them yourself and do not use canned. The flavor is very different. Measure 2 cups dry chickpeas, put them in a pot and cover with about three inches of pure water. Let them soak overnight (or eight hours). Then discard the soaking water, put them in a pot and cover again with about two inches of pure water. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 45 minutes. Taste to test for doneness. The chickpea should be soft and firm. Remove chickpeas from cooking water and allow to cool. When completely cool, refrigerate.
- Snap asparagus to find the tender point, then cut each stalk into three or four bite-size pieces. For a pound (before trimming) of asparagus, put about a half cup of water in a skillet and turn heat to medium. When the water starts simmering, add the asparagus, then a few minutes later add about 1/2 cup frozen peas. Let it simmer, stirring occasionally. When the water evaporates, turn off the heat and let the asparagus and peas cool. Refrigerate.
- Chop celery and green onions and parsley in whatever amount you like.
- Make a dressing of white balsamic vinegar, mustard, and honey. I use mustard in this dressing because we know it is springtime in Sonoma County, California by the appearance of massive fields of bright yellow mustard flowers. If I had access to mustard flowers I would add them to the bowl because they are edible, but generally they are on private property. I need to grow my own.
- Toss all ingredients together with the dressing and serve over a bed of mixed greens. In the photo I used red and green “baby gems” lettuce from the farmer’s market and swiss chard leaves from my garden. If you have edible flowers, toss them all over the top! I used pansies from my own garden.
This is a wonderful way to celebrate spring and become more familiar with the foods of the season.