We’re always on the prowl for variations on the classic pasta primavera, that culinary catch-all for vegetables in sauces that marry well with pasta. I’ve developed this one for its speed of prep while presenting a complex flavor profile…it’s the separate mushroom sauté plus olives and mozzarella that give this dish its palate-pleasing spin.

You’ll only need one large, straight-sided sauté pan (I use a 4 qt. one), in which you first sauté the mushrooms with the scallions and garlic; use same pan for rest of sauce.

Chicken stock discovery: Trader Joe’s Savory Broth reduced sodium liquid concentrate. These little pouches of liquid gold contain 50% less sodium than regular concentrate and they don’t harden into salty cubes which require mashing to re-hydrate. Just dissolve a pouch in a cup of water and you have truly flavorful stock.

As for the pasta sauce, I prefer the Classico brand as tomatoes and tomato paste are always first on the ingredients’ list, unlike some which begin with sugar. If you don’t have any on hand, use a 15 oz. can of diced tomatoes with one Tbsp of tomato paste. And now you will need one-half tsp salt, which you can omit with the prepared sauce.

Mozzarella will taste better when grated off a ball of the fresh product; those salty pre-packaged twigs in the dairy aisle don’t do justice here. As for the olives, Kalamata or some other spicy variety from the deli section are preferable to the bland canned ones.

Ingredients:

4 Tbsp olive oil

4 cloves garlic, chopped

4 scallions, chopped or

1 shallot, chopped

3-4 cups cremini, sliced

2 cups broccoli florets

1 cup carrots, sliced

1 cup frozen baby peas

1 cup pasta sauce

1 cup chicken stock

½ cup grated mozzarella

½ cup pitted black olives

1 box small-cut pasta

Over low heat sauté scallions and garlic until the former are wilted; add mushrooms and ¼ tsp salt; sauté for c. 5 minutes until mushrooms are also wilted. Set aside.

Into same pan add remaining olive oil and chopped garlic, all veggies except peas, cover and allow to sweat out for c. 5 minutes.

Add chicken stock and tomato sauce and simmer for c. 15 minutes.

Just before serving, top with the cubes of mozzarella and the olives.

Serve with any small-cut pasta of your choice…and chianti!

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