This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo
This is such a popular dish that its Italian name almost does not need translation. A common mistake in making this is not sautéing the vegetables enough. Do not be afraid of overcooking them here. Whatever dubious virtue there may be in undercooking vegetables, it certainly does not apply to pasta sauces. By cutting the vegetables in tiny pieces and sautéing them thoroughly, you will concentrate their flavor and infuse the cream with it. Done properly, this is a heavenly dish with the rich, sweet flavors of spring.
OccasionCooking for a date, Formal Dinner Party
Dietary Considerationhigh fiber, peanut free, soy free, tree nut free, vegetarian
Taste and Texturebuttery, cheesy, creamy, rich
- ½ small yellow onion
- 1 large carrot
- 1 medium celery stalk
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 8 ounces asparagus
- ¾ red bell pepper
- 1½ medium zucchini (8 ounces)
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 4-5 sprigs flat-leaf Italian parsley
- Freshly ground black pepper
- ½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
- 10 ounces dried egg fettuccine
Peel and finely chop the onion. Peel the carrot and cut into ½-inch dice. Wash the celery, trim the top and bottom, and peel the back to remove the tough strings. Cut it into ¼-inch dice. Put the butter in a 12-inch skillet and place over medium-high heat. Once the butter begins to melt, add the onion, carrot, and celery and sauté until the vegetables begin to brown, about 5 minutes.
While the vegetables are sautéing, fill a 12-inch skillet with water and place over high heat. Cut off the white, woody bottom part of the asparagus spears, then peel the remaining bottom third. Add 1 teaspoon salt to the boiling water, then gently slide in the asparagus. Cook for 5 to 6 minutes or until the asparagus is tender, then lift them out and set aside.
Fill a pot for the pasta with about 6 quarts of water, place over high heat, and bring to a boil.
Wash the zucchini, trim the ends, and cut into ½-inch dice. Peel the pepper, core it and remove the seeds. Cut away any white pith inside the pepper and cut into 1-inch squares.
When the onion, carrot, and celery are ready, add the zucchini and peppers. Season generously with salt and pepper and continue sautéing until the zucchini and peppers are quite tender and lightly browned, about 15 minutes.
While the zucchini and peppers are cooking, finely chop enough parsley to measure 1½ tablespoons. Cut the cooked asparagus into pieces about 1 inch long. When the zucchini and peppers are ready, add the asparagus and sauté for about another minute. Add the cream and parsley and continue cooking until the cream has thickened and reduced by almost half.
While the cream is reducing, cook the pasta. Add about 2 tablespoons salt to the boiling pasta water, add the fettuccine, and stir until all the strands are submerged. Cook until al dente.
When the pasta is done, drain it well, toss with the sauce and the freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, and serve at once.
2009 Giuliano Hazan
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