In the Northeast, it has been below the freezing mark since Christmas Day. Literally dozens of records have been broken on an almost daily basis. Any thought of Spring is about as far away as April. So I was taken aback when I saw a recipe for Pasta Primavera from Epicurious.com pop up in my in-box on a particularly frigid day last week. It broke all kinds of rules but it could not have looked like a more appealing way to forget what’s been going outside. It did require a mad dash to the food store and some freezing feet when I got home. But oh my, it was worth it.
This is a superb one-dish wonder that takes all of 22 minutes to make. Really! 22 minutes to achieve this bowl of bright green peas and broccoli and haricots vert, multi-colored cherry tomatoes and plump shrimp. They’re all melded together in a creamy-silken Parmigiano sauce. Parmigiano is the first rule breaker. For years, the rules of Italian cooking castigated anyone who would dare mix cheese of any kind with seafood of any kind.
The late Marcella Hazan, no less, blessed the change in the rules in a wonderful encounter I had with her. Ms Hazan is to Italian cooking in America what Julia Child was to French. She brought true Italian cooking wisdom to America in a series of cookbooks that are bibles to home cooks and pros alike and remain so even after her death in 2013. Right up until the last, Marcella Hazan was extraordinarily giving. She was an active FaceBook user and would answer her FaceBook friends’ questions on a regular basis.
I had written a post including the prohibition on cheese paired with seafood when I got a somewhat frantic email from a long-lost cousin. He’d been writing an encyclopedic cooking tome that took in Italy from top to bottom. Apparently, he’d included many recipes that flew in the face of the old edict. He asked for help. Who better than Signora Hazan to respond, which she did with great speed. Here is how our conversation went:
Monte Mathews Marcella Hazan
Dear Marcella, A cousin of mine wrote to ask me about the ‘uproar’ when serving Italian seafood dishes with cheese. I wondered if you could share your thoughts on the subject. Grazie Mille!
Yesterday at 1:47pm ·
Marcella Hazan Monte, I used to be very dogmatic about that, but living in Venice for 20 years I found it was possible and even desirable to use both butter and cheese, as in baked scallops, for example, or in risotto with scampi. There are limits, however. Sprinkling cheese on pasta with clams is and always be a crime against nature.
39 minutes ago · Monte Mathews Thank you so much for taking time to answer this question. I will forward it to my cousin. Tante belle cose a lei!
The prohibition lifted by the doyenne of Italian cooking no less!
For more of Marcella Hazan’s many appearances on Chewing The Fat, follow the links after this recipe.
One more thing: I used wild-caught Pink Shrimp for this dish. I beg you to use wild-caught fish and shellfish. Much of what you see in fish markets has been farmed under some particularly questionable practices. I have stopped buying frozen Costco Shrimp for that reason. The gorgeous shrimp I used hailed from Argentina so as to freshness, we know they must have been frozen but they were excellent and very well-priced at $9.99 a lb. The recipe called for just 8 ounces of Shrimp for 4 portions. This didn’t fly with me so I doubled that quantity while halving the rest of the recipe for the two servings I needed. I have doubled it again for the 4 portions promised here. I did have to clean my Pink Shrimp but I did that to my lb. while the pasta was boiling away. Here’s is the recipe:
Pasta Primavera with Pink Shrimp
This is a one-dish wonder with the pasta cooking in its own Parmesan sauce to which a colorful palate of vegetables is added.
- 12 ounces short tubular pasta, such as penne (I used De Cecco Tortiglioni)
- 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 2 1/2 teaspoons (or more) kosher salt
- 3/4 teaspoon (or more) freshly ground black pepper
- 1 (10-ounce) bag broccoli florets
- 6 ounces green beans, preferably haricots verts, trimmed
- 2 lbs. large shrimp, peeled, deveined, tails left on
- 1 pint multi-colored cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
- 1 cup frozen green peas
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
- 3/4 cup finely grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
- 1/4 cup coarsely chopped basil
- Red pepper flakes (for serving
- Step 1 1. Place pasta in a large, wide-bottomed pot or large, wide, straight-sided pan. Add garlic, salt, black pepper, and 3 1/2 cups hot water. Cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, uncover and cook, setting a timer for cooking pasta according to package directions and stirring often. When 5 minutes remain on timer, stir in broccoli and green beans. Cover pot and return to a boil. (If pot starts to dry out at any point, add another 1/2 cup water.) When 2 minutes remain on timer, stir in shrimp, tomatoes, peas, and butter. Cover and continue to cook 2 minutes, then uncover and cook, stirring, until pasta is tender, shrimp are cooked through, and water is almost completely evaporated, about 1 minute more.
- Step 2 Remove from heat. Stir in lemon zest and 3/4 cup Parmesan and toss to coat. Season with more salt and pepper, if needed.
- Step 3 Divide pasta among plates. Top with basil, additional Parmesan, and red pepper, if using.
Here are the links to Marcella Hazan’s recipes on Chewing The Fat…