The story is that Serio Maccione invented this dish for his fabled New York restaurant, Le Cirque, in 1974. True or not, pasta primavera is a New World invention and caught on across the country in the ’70s and ’80s. Most of us have had a dismal version of this dish, made with frozen vegetables and sticky cream sauce. Forget that. Pasta Primavera should taste as light and fresh as the season it’s named for.

The beautiful secret about pasta primavera is that all-season vegetables can be used for a taste of spring, even before the season’s produce hits the market.

Pasta Primavera

serves 4

1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup olive oil
1 med. onion, minced or sliced thinly
1 clove garlic, minced
A total of about 6 cups of the following
vegetables, your choice: thin asparagus, cut into 3-inch pieces, sliced, mushrooms, cauliflower florets, broccoli florets, sliced zucchini, thinly sliced carrot, sliced yellow squash, grape tomatoes, julienned red and yellow bell peppers, sugar snap peas, English peas
1 cup half-and-half
1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
salt and pepper
2 Tbsp. chopped basil
3 Tbsp. sliced scallions
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 lb. pasta, cooked, drained

Heat butter and oil, cook onion and garlic until onion is soft. (Be careful not to burn garlic.) Add vegetables and stir-fry for a few minutes. Add half-and-half and stock, lower heat and simmer until vegetables are barely tender and liquid coats a spoon. Season to taste. Toss vegetables with pasta, cheese and scallions and sprinkle with basil.

-Mary Brown Malouf