The name Pasta Primavera or Pasta alla Primavera literally means pasta with Spring vegetables. In this case my pasta IS a vegetable. Zucchini noodles or Zoodles have become all the rage because they are gluten free and low carb which fits in very nicely with many diet regimens today. Our vegan pasta alla prima vera begins with julienned or spiral sliced zucchini tossed with caramelized red onion, sliced crimini or baby bella mushrooms, sweet grape tomatoes and my awesome vegan pesto!! Ah-mazing!!!
Start by prepping all the components. Dice up the red onion and get it started in a hot pan with a drizzle of oilive oil and some salt. Adding a little salt speeds the caramelization process. I like to use red onions for two reasons, the first being the gorgeous color. The second reason I use red onions is the flavor. Raw they are on the hot side as onions go, but cooked they develop this outrageous sweetness. Once the onions are translucent and somewhat golden I like to deglaze the pan to get all the little flavor bits. I used a splash of dry white wine but if you avoid alcohol, use a splash of vegetable broth.
Next you can toss in your sliced mushrooms. I used sliced crimini also known as baby portabella mushrooms in this batch, but you can use any kind including regular button or white mushrooms or even the earthier Shataki mushrooms or how about a combination of mushrooms like my basket of white and Shataki shown here. Regardless of what variety you use, slice them thin and add them to your saute pan once the onions are done. Stir it all together and cook the mushrooms until they are tender. Mushrooms lend any vegan dish a hearty texture and flavor, often referred to ironically as meaty.
For a pop of bold color and some explosive flavor I like to toss in some halved grape tomatoes. I find grape tomatoes to be sweeter than cherry. I add them to my pan and allow them to cook for a few minutes until they are just heated through not really cooked. I do the same with the zoodles, I toss them in the pan and mix it all up and warm them as opposed to cooking them — I want the dish to be hot but not mushy.
The pièce de résistance in this dish as with any pasta dish is the sauce, which in this case is a few spoonfuls of home made vegan pesto. I make pesto regularly and freeze it in ice cube trays for future use, but I love this dish with fresh pesto that I make early in the day so it has a few hours of bloom time before it is used. I get it out of the fridge when I am prepping, so it is not stone cold when it is time to mix it into the pasta. This particular pesto was made from a bunch of basil with a half a bunch of cilantro, 2 cloves of garlic, some pine nuts, nutritional yeast, sea salt, black pepper and olive oil all processed smooth in my Ninja. I love the fresh flavors of an herbaceous sauce like this, a little goes a long way too. I used a couple scoops which was maybe a quarter cup or so for my whole batch but you can use as much or as little as you like. Once you have coated your noodles and veggies with pesto add a dash of salt and pepper and serve immediately. Make sure you have some nice bread on the table for mopping up the plates after!!
- Vegan Pesto, allowed to warm up to room temperature.
- 1 T Dry White Wine or Vegetable Broth
- 2 Green Zucchini, spiral sliced or julienned
- 1 Red Onion, diced and caramelized
- 1 4 oz pkg Mushrooms, sliced
- 12-15 Sweet Grape Tomatoes, sliced in half
- Sea Salt to taste
- Black Pepper to taste
- Heat a large saute pan and add a drizzle of olive oil. Toss in the onions and a little salt and let them soften and brown.
- De-glaze the pan with a splash of wine or broth and add sliced mushrooms and cook until tender.
- Add sliced tomatoes to the pan and allow them to cook for a 2-3 minutes.
- Toss in Zoodles thoroughly mixing them with all the veggies and saute them for 3 minutes or so to heat through.
- Place in a large pasta bowl and toss with pesto and serve immediately.