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Video: A new twist on classic pasta primavera

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    >>> we're back with this morning's "how to cook everything today." a new spin on a classic dish, pasta primavera . mark bittman is here with easy variations you can try at home. mark, good to see you.

    >> hi, matt.

    >> pasta primavera a time-honored recipe.

    >> actually it's kind of a new recipe.

    >> it's a classic.

    >> in the spring you should make pasta with spring vegetables.

    >> we're going to make one here that's basically a one skillet dish exempt for the pot you're going to boil the pasta in.

    >> i think all of these are a one skillet dish. we're using fresh pasta which cooks very, very quickly. and we're going to put in some chilies and some olive oil . chopped chilies, and some peas that we blanched in the same water that we're doing the pasta .

    >> has to be fresh peas? you know you want it to be.

    >> this is the whole thing. it's spring. you can make this any time with frozen peas . but, so at this point, we're actually ready to put in the pasta but it's not quite ready. just give it another second.

    >> that's okay.

    >> we're going to do mint and some parmesan.

    >> and you know, when i have pasta primavera i don't like it when they put too many vegetables in it. i like to be able to get a sense of the pasta as well and not have it overpowered.

    >> that's the idea here. is fresh vegetables, a little bit of pasta and a lot of flavor. so really, each of these dishes features, this one is obviously peas, features one vegetable, pasta , and a lot of flavor. some mint on top.

    >> a little pecorino?

    >> and some parmesan, actually.

    >> perfect.

    >> all right. so that's one dish.

    >> that's one.

    >> what's the twist on this one?

    >> this is great. this is leeks which a lot of people don't know what to do with. but they brown beautifully. they get very sweet and tender. and they make a terrific bed for this dish.

    >> but you add something for a little extra flavor kick on this one.

    >> well, before the leeks we sauteed a bunch of bacon and that's out. and then we cook the leeks in the bacon fat that's remaining in the pan.

    >> okay.

    >> and then a nice trick here is some fried eggs . and you cook them just enough to set the whites a little bit. you want the yolk very, very runny. because the remaining -- the heat that's retained by your pasta and the heat in the pan, of course, is going to finish cooking them.

    >> what's the dish you taught me how to make with the pasta and the eggs and the parmesan?

    >> a cash nara. what am i forgetting? nothing. we put the bacon in. and then the pasta goes on top of everything, and essentially, you're scrambling the eggs in the pasta .

    >> all right. and when it comes out. it looks something --

    >> very much like that. parmesan again.

    >> in the minute we have left. i'm noticing something boiling like crazy.

    >> that's okay. we want this to be boiling. this is just heavy cream and butter. just, but --

    >> okay. tell that to your doctor.

    >> right. blanche some spinach, take it out and chop it up. really what this is is creamed spinach with pasta . blanch some spinach. it will all thicken.

    >> nice pasta .

    >> and that's a beautiful thing. and as is typical with the spinach dish, a little bit of nutmeg.

    >> fantastic. mark bittman . three different versions of pasta primavera . well done and quickly done. up

TODAY recipes
updated 4/24/2012 2:45:19 PM ET 2012-04-24T18:45:19

Recipe: Tagliatelle with peas, pecorino, chili and mint

Ingredients
  • Salt
  • 2 cups shelled peas
  • 1/2 to 1 pound tagliatelle
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh hot chili (like Thai)
  • 1/2 cup chopped mint, plus more for garnish
  • 1/2 cup grated pecorino Romano cheese, plus more for garnish
Preparation

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, then add the shelled peas and cook until tender, 3 to 5 minutes; remove with a sieve.

2. Add the tagliatelle to the boiling water.

3. Meanwhile, put the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the minced hot chili and the peas, and cook, stirring occasionally, about 2 minutes.

4. When the pasta is tender but not mushy, drain it, reserving some of the cooking water.

5. Return the tagliatelle to the pot and toss with the peas, chopped mint and grated pecorino Romano cheese. Add a bit of cooking water, if you like. Serve garnished with more mint and pecorino.

Serving Size

Makes 4 to 6 servings. Time: 25 minutes.

Recipe: Spaghetti with leeks, bacon and eggs

Ingredients
  • Salt
  • 1/2 to 1 pound spaghetti
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 4 ounces chopped pancetta or good bacon
  • 2 chopped, cleaned leeks (about 1 pound)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Freshly chopped parsley for garnish
Preparation

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, then add the spaghetti.

2. Meanwhile, put 2 tablespoons olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the chopped pancetta or bacon and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned, 8 to 10 minutes; remove with a slotted spoon.

3. Add the leeks to the saucepan and cook in the rendered fat until soft, golden and beginning to brown, about 15 minutes.

4. Make four wells in the cooked leeks, add a little olive oil to each (about 1 tablespoon total), and crack the eggs into the wells. Fry until the whites are barely set; the yolks will be runny.

5. When the pasta is tender but not mushy, drain it, reserving some of the cooking water.

6. Return the spaghetti to the pot and toss with the pancetta or bacon, leeks and eggs, and grated Parmesan. Add a little of the cooking water, if you like. Serve garnished with freshly chopped parsley.

Serving Size

Makes 4 to 6 servings. Time: 30 minutes.

Recipe: Capelli d'angelo (angel hair) with creamed spinach

Ingredients
  • Salt
  • 2 pounds fresh spinach, washed and leaves picked over
  • 1/2 to 1 pound capelli d'angelo
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup cream
  • Freshly grated nutmeg for garnish
Preparation

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, then add the spinach; cook for 1 minute, then remove with a sieve, cool and chop.

2. Add the capelli d'angelo to the boiling water.

3. Meanwhile, put the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. When the butter melts, add the cream and spinach, and cook until thick; about 5 minutes or more.

4. When the pasta is tender but not mushy, drain it, and add it to the saucepan with spinach and cream; stir to combine. Serve garnished with freshly grated nutmeg.

Serving Size

Makes 4 to 6 servings. Time: 25 minutes.

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