Aren’t they all the same?
I can still remember the first time I had Pasta Carbonara. It was on vacation in Mexico. Why was I ordering that in a Mexican restaurant? I don’t know. I was young – maybe 19-20 years old; it looked good. It had ingredients listed that I didn’t have to translate. Maybe I was tired of margaritas and salsa? Probably the deciding factor was the “bacon” listed in the ingredients. I am always a sucker for salty, smoked pork products. All I know, is this is how my love affair with pasta, cheese and cream began. In Mexico. Pasta Carbonara is famous for the use of an egg that cooks with just the heat of the pasta and coats and thickens into a clingy sauce along with the grated parm cheese.
Later in life- maybe mid 20s – I discovered Pasta Primavera in Maine. I lived for a while in a town small enough that it didn’t have a movie theater and when the cows from the neighboring farm broke loose – it was news. The restaurant was one of those family-owned pizza, sub and Italian dinner places. I ate there so much that of course they knew me by my phone order even before I gave my name. Even though I liked to cook; as a single girl it was sometimes just impractical. The owner told me that it was the Zucchini that made the difference. All I know, is this is how my love affair with pasta, cheese and olive oil began. In Maine. Pasta Primavera is usually a mix of “spring” vegetables, oil and cheese coating the pasta and sometimes it is creamy.
Other than some buffet line at somebody’s wedding – I am pretty sure my first real experience with Fettucini Alfredo came in a jar. Remember in the 1990’s when that new line of “Classico Pasta Sauces” were introduced? Creamy rich, garlick-y alfredo sauce right there in a jar – just heat and eat. All I know, is this is how my love affair with cream and garlic began. In a jar. I found out quickly that making it is pretty easy. I now know that I can just start with cream; cook it down and add the flavorings.
I decided to make a dish the other night that combined all the best things from each of them. Besides I wanted to use up what I had on hand.
Into the pan went the zucchini and summer squash I seem to always have. The red peppers that I still have lots of because the big bag of them was on sale this week. A sliced onion of course. 1/2 of a small head of garlic minced. Diced leftover ham steak – we almost always have some of this on hand for western omelets. Frozen peas because everything is better with bright green peas.
After sauteing and browning all of that in a little bit of olive oil, S&P and dried oregano; I added 1 cup of light cream and let it simmer down till it started to thicken and coat the veggies.
A squeeze from half of a fresh lemon gave it some brightness and tang. A cup of shredded Pecorino Romano cheese gave it the cheesy, salty yummy-ness.
Serve it up over a steaming pile of pasta – whatever shape you have works – and enjoy this delicious weeknight cabinet stew!