Sometime in the 1970’s, my father came across an article describing an Italian’s physical reaction to being deprived of pasta for more than two days. The syndrome was called “Hypopastemia”. It became the running by-word in our home when we missed our pasta for whatever reason and we were starting to get the “shakes”.
We ate some form of pasta 6 nights of the week – sometimes small pastina in soup, sometimes a tube shaped pasta with a meat sauce (aka gravy), sometimes spaghetti with clam sauce, but most often it was pasta with different vegetables. Saturday was reserved for steak and mashed potatoes, my grandparents concession to living in America.
So now after a long day at work the most comforting meal for me is a bowl of pasta with a lot of vegetables plus a large salad and sauteed beans.
Here is another quick recipe. I call this dish: Pasta Verdure (lush green vegetables).
2 medium zucchini, cut into matchsticks
½ red onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
Small head of Kale or Swiss Chard, tough stems removed and coarsely chopped
1 cup of frozen peas
1 small bunch asparagus, cut into 2 inch pieces
½ cup Extra Virgin Olive oil (EVOO), divided
½ pound Penne Pasta
Salt and pepper to taste
¼ tsp red pepper flakes
2 TBS balsamic vinegar
Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil.
Meanwhile, in a large sauté pan heat 2TBS of the EVOO.
Add the onion and sauté for about 2 minutes. Add the garlic, cook another 2 minutes.
Add the zucchini. Sauté over medium high heat, until the vegetables are wilted and just cooked through. This should take about 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
Cook pasta according to package directions, BUT for the last 3 minutes of cooking time add the kale, peas and asparagus. Reserve ¾ cup of the pasta cooking water.
Drain the pasta and add to the pan with the sautéed vegetables.
Heat over medium heat- adding some of the EVOO and some of the pasta water to loosen the vegetables and make a “sauce”. Add the red pepper flakes, cook for 1 minute.
Add the balsamic vinegar.
Serve and enjoy!