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Le Cirque Spaghetti Primavera

Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch broccoli, trimmed and cut into bite-size florets
  • 2 small zucchini, unpeeled, quartered lengthwise and cut into 1-inch lengths
  • 4 asparagus spears (about 5 inches long), peeled, trimmed and cut into thirds
  • 1 1/2 cups green beans, ends trimmed, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen peas
  • 4 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cups thinly sliced mushrooms
  • 1 tsp finely chopped fresh red or green chile pepper, or about 1/2 tsp dried red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp finely chopped garlic
  • 3 cups seeded, diced ripe tomatoes, juices reserved
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 6 fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 lbs spaghetti or spaghettini
  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • 1/2 cup heavy (whipping) cream
  • 2/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2/3 cup toasted pine nuts

Preparation:

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the broccoli, zucchini, asparagus and beans until crisp but tender, about 4 minutes. Add the peas and cook for 1 more minute. Drain the vegetables and immediately rinse under cold running water to stop the cooking. Drain again, transfer to a large bowl and set aside.

In a large nonreactive skillet over medium heat, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil. When hot, add the mushrooms and chili pepper and sauté for about 2 minutes. Add the remaining 3 tablespoons oil, garlic and tomatoes (reserve the juice) and cook, stirring gently so as not to break up the tomatoes, for about 4 minutes. Add the parsley and basil and stir to combine. Remove from the heat; set aside.

Bring another large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the spaghetti just until al dente; the spaghetti must retain just a slight resilience in the center. Drain; set aside.

Meanwhile, place a nonreactive pot large enough to hold the drained spaghetti and all of the vegetables over medium heat. Add the butter and heat until melted. Add the cream and cheese and heat, stirring constantly until heated through. When hot, reduce the heat and cook gently on very low heat until smooth. Add the spaghetti and toss quickly to blend. Add half of the broccoli mixture and pour in the reserved juice from the tomatoes. Toss and stir over very low heat until heated through, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the remaining broccoli mixture and toss gently. If the sauce seems too dry, add additional cream, but the sauce should not be soupy. Adjust the seasonings. Add the pine nuts and give the mixture one final toss.

Serve in heated bowls. Spoon some of the mushroom-tomato mixture over each serving. Serve immediately.

Makes 6 to 8 appetizers

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