How To Prepare Spring
Vegetables in Italy

Springtime in Italy means that some of the most prized vegetables begin to come into season. Asparagus, peas, artichokes, zucchini and spinach play a large role in Italian cooking.

In addition to being served as contorni (side dishes), they are featured in vegetable stews starting in early April, and in risottos, pasta dishes and antipasti as the weather gets warmer into May. Eating seasonally and locally is very important to Italians. Therefore, it is important that vegetables are at their freshest and most flavorful.

In Italy, spring artichokes are especially prized, particularly in Rome, where they show up as a main ingredient in dozens of dishes and have been known to be an important consideration for people planning trips to The Eternal City in the spring.

This month we’re showcasing some of our favorite spring vegetables in Pasta Primavera (capellini with asparagus, peas, zucchini and carrots in a light tomato cream sauce). You’ll also enjoy these Stuffed Artichokes, a nice early spring dish.

Pasta Primavera

  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Servings: 6

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped fine
  • 2 cups Contadina® Crushed Tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup of water
  • Salt & freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 8 asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch slices
  • 2 small zucchini, cut into 1/4 inch slices
  • 1/2 cup shelled, fresh peas
  • 1 lb. capellini (angel hair)
  • 2 Tsbp. salt
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup Parmagianno-Reggiano cheese

Preparation:

Make the Tomato Sauce

  1. Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a large saucepan.
  2. Add the garlic and cook until softened and lightly browned.
  3. Add the tomatoes and 1/4 cup of water, season with salt & pepper and bring to a boil.
  4. Lower heat to a simmer and cook until thickened 15-20 minutes.

Cook the Vegetables

  1. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil.
  2. Add the asparagus, carrots, zucchini and peas to the water.
  3. Blanch the vegetables in the boiling water for 5 minutes.
  4. Drain the vegetables, add to tomato sauce, stir, then cook the sauce for 5 more minutes.

Finish The Dish

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil while the tomato sauce is cooking. Add capellini and 2 tablespoons of salt. Cook uncovered over high heat until al dente.
  2. Drain pasta, return to the pot it was cooked in, and pour in the sauce with the vegetables.
  3. Add the cream and cheese and stir until well mixed.
  4. Dish out into individual bowls and serve.

Click here to view and print this recipe.

Stuffed Artichokes

Stuffed Artichokes
  • Total Time: 60 minutes
  • Servings: 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Contadina® Traditional Unseasoned
    Bread Crumbs
  • 1/2 cup grated Pecorino-Romano Cheese
  • 1 Tbsp. parsley, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • Salt & freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 6 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
  • 4 artichokes
  • 2 cloves of garlic, sliced

Preparation:

  1. Combine breadcrumbs, Pecorino-Romano Cheese, parsley, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a medium bowl. Mix together well.
  2. Cut stems off artichokes, flush with bottom.
  3. Cut pointy tips off the top of each artichoke leaf.
  4. Spread leaves of each artichoke out and push stuffing in between them.
  5. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat in a pot just large enough to fit the artichokes.
  6. Add the sliced garlic and cook until lightly browned and softened, 1-2 minutes.
  7. Place the artichokes in the pot and drizzle the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive over the top.
  8. Pour enough water into the pot to come halfway up the sides of the artichokes.
  9. Cover and cook until the artichokes are tender and a leaf is easily pulled out, about 45 minutes. If liquid is evaporating too quickly add a little more water.
  10. Transfer to a serving platter, drizzle some of the liquid from the pot over the artichokes and serve.

Click here to view and print this recipe.