Sometimes you find inspiration in the most unexpected places.
I was doing some grocery shopping for my daughter’s birthday party, still undecided about what kind of pasta I wanted to make for her party. I had been thinking about it for days, but was completely uninspired, when I saw a small tag promoting a certain brand of pasta. It was pretty small, around 4×5, and there was a small picture of angel hair with zucchini & red bell pepper on it.
Yes! That was it. It was spring-y, (I love primavera) and a combination that I had never tried before. I was pretty excited about it. Fortunately, it turned out better than I had hoped, and I’ve been making it regularly ever since. Even kids love it, and it’s an awesome way to get them to eat vegetables.
I also use this method for making pasta primavera, which is pasta made with spring vegetables. Because of this reason, you will see overlapping pictures of both pastas in this post. For the longest time, I couldn’t understand how chefs just toss some salt, pepper and vegetables together with pasta, and it’s supposed to taste amazing. But ever since I experimented with this method, I’ve died and gone to pasta heaven. Now I can make pasta with just about anything and I just love it.
Now, I’ve made this recipe with and without chicken, depending on my mood and what else was on the menu. If I’m only serving this, then I prefer to make it with chicken.
It’s very simple.
Chop the vegetables and toss them with salt, pepper, olive oil and herbs. Spread them on a baking sheet and broil until nicely roasted.
Cook the pasta of your choice (I’ve tried this recipe with all kinds of pasta).
Toss together the pasta and vegetables (and chicken, if you’re adding it) and that’s it!
- 3-4 medium zucchini, roughly chopped
- 1 red bell pepper, roughly chopped
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 tsp salt, plus more to taste
- 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tsp dried basil/ 4-5 sprigs fresh basil
- ½ tsp fennel seeds (You can also use a little freshly chopped fennel instead)
- 3-4 cloves garlic, crushed & chopped
- 2 cups cooked chicken pieces, optional (I prefer grilled chicken)
- 1 lb pasta of your choice (I like Barilla) Use gluten free pasta for the GF version (I prefer Ronzoni)*
- ½ cup grated Parmesan (optional)
- Line a baking sheet with foil.
- Spread all the vegetables on the baking sheet, and toss with salt, pepper, garlic, olive oil, basil and fennel.
- Broil on 'Hi' for 20-25 minutes until nicely roasted, and their edges are starting to char.
- Meanwhile, boil the pasta according to the instructions on the package until al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid.
- Return the pasta to a large pot, and toss with the vegetables (making sure to add all the oil and herbs), chicken, and enough reserved liquid to moisten the pasta and bring the flavors together. (You can also use chicken broth instead.)
- Adjust the seasoning, and transfer to a serving dish.
- Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese (optional) and serve hot.
- In the case of pasta primavera, I use 1 zucchini, half red bell pepper, half yellow or green.
- I also add 1 diced onion and 8 oz sliced mushrooms.
- You can also add cherry/roma tomatoes, or any combination of vegetables of your choice.
- Broil all these vegetables together with the zucchini and herbs. It will take a little longer, since there are a lot more. I just watch for the charred edges that start to appear.
- Then, toss with the pasta and adjust the seasoning!
- *Hurray! Mainstream brands like Ronzoni and Barilla have also introduced gluten free pastas! But I prefer Ronzoni because it is made with four grains: white rice, brown rice, quinoa and corn, whereas Barilla only uses white rice and corn. Ronzoni gluten free pastas come in yellow boxes and taste pretty great.
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