Spring Spaghetti Primavera (and a Buttery Sauce Without Butter)

It’s been a while since my last post. In the process of moving in with the gentleman, a few trips and lots of packing and unpacking (and trying to eat my way through a pantry and freezer full of food), I just kind of lost the opportunity to sit down, edit photos and write up a post. Now that I finally feel like I’m getting back into a routine, I think I can start writing again. I have about 10 meals photographed and ready, so there might be a bit of a backlog coming up!

spring spaghetti primavera recipe

This is one of the first meals that I made living in the temporarily new place, (yep more moving to come), and I think it does a pretty good job of celebrating the season.

Just today I finished reading The Omnivore’s Dilemma, which I was a few years overdue on picking up. In the process of reading, I’ve decided to try even harder to focus on local, seasonal food with a good provenance. Right now, I can afford to make the extra effort and take the time to really consider what I eat and cook with, and if my choices have any effect on what the supermarkets stock, or the success of my local CSA, even better.

Speaking of the CSA, all of the veggies in this recipe came from our weekly vegetable box. Unfortunately there aren’t any shrimp deliveries, so I had to make do on that one. This recipe works well with any combo of seasonal veggies that you’re happy with, and it makes a great (and quick) dinner for a warm spring evening.

(Oh yeah, and if you leave out the shrimp, this is vegan!) I learned a great trick about getting butter-style emulsified sauces without the butter from Serious Eats, one of my favorite places for food know-how. It’s a great trick to keep a simple pasta dish dairy-free without sacrificing the sauciness. And everyone needs a bit of sauciness now and again.


On the Counter

1/2 lb (225 g) whole wheat spaghetti
1/4 cup (60 ml) extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 large or 2 small zucchini (courgettes), halved lengthways into quarters and sliced
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2 medium vine-ripened tomatoes, chopped (and peeled if you’re feeling ambitious)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp corn starch (corn flour)
(reserve) 1/2 cup pasta cooking water
10-12 raw shrimp (prawns), peeled (optional)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Fresh thyme leaves, off the stem
1/2 tsp red pepper (chili) flakes
salt and pepper to taste

What to Do

Start the pasta in a pot of salted, boiling water and cook until al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup of cooking water.

While the pasta is cooking, heat olive oil in skillet/frying pan. Add onion, toss and sauté until slightly translucent, about 4 minutes.

Add zucchini, garlic and bell pepper to the pan, and sauté  for 5 minutes or until the zucchini are nearly softened. Add corn starch and reserved pasta water, stir to dissolve corn starch and turn up the heat.

Add tomatoes, shrimp, red pepper flakes and thyme. Sauté until shrimp are just cooked and tomatoes soften (about 3 minutes).

Add lemon juice and toss the pasta in the hot skillet.

Season with salt and black pepper.


Because asparagus are finally in season here, I steamed some with a bit of garlic to serve on the side – which is why you’ll see their cameo appearance above. I love asparagus in pasta too, but that is certainly a matter of preference.

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