Giuliano Hazan, author of several cookbooks, definitely picked up a few pointers from his mother Marcella Hazan, the doyenne of Italian cooking, and it particularly shows in this, a creamy, flavourful, vegetable based pasta dish that celebrates the bounty of "primavera" or spring.
The ability to coax incredible flavour from the vegetables, Italian soffritto (onions, carrots, celery), sweet red pepper and zucchini, lay in the cooking method, caramelizing them in butter before any liquids were added. The asparagus, on the other hand, received a different treatment altogether, a quick blanch in boiling water before being added to the others towards the end of cooking. Giuliano has you set up a separate pan to do this, but I just used the pot of boiling water that was waiting for the pasta and retrieved the asparagus pieces with a slotted spoon.
I made a few changes to the dish: the recipe calls for 3/4 of a pepper, 1-1/2 zucchini etc...I don't know about you, but I have no use for small cuts of leftover vegetables residing in my fridge so I just used them up. To lighten the dish a little, I used only 2 tbsp of butter (any less and you really don't have enough to develop the flavour) and replaced half the cream with vegetable stock. It wasn't a very saucy dish, but there was enough to coat pasta and vegetables with deliciousness!
The recipe is from Giuliano Hazan's Thirty-Minute Pasta: 100 Quick and Easy Recipes but can also be found here. I'm sharing this post with Kitchen Flavours' Cook-Your-Books challenge this month. Visit here to see what everyone else is making.