Le Cirque’s Spaghetti Primavera
Sirio Maccioni, the impresario of the restaurant, Le Cirque, in Manhattan, is credited with creating this dish, variations of which have become a standby in restaurants across the country—mostly as the retitled Pasta Primavera. This is the original recipe.
Serves4 as a main course, or 6 to 8 as an appetizer
Total Timeunder 1 hour
OccasionCasual Dinner Party, Family Get-together
Recipe Coursehot appetizer, main course
Dietary Considerationhot appetizer, main course
Taste and Texturecheesy, creamy, herby, nutty, savory, spiced
Type of Dishdry pasta
- 1 bunch broccoli, trimmed and cut into bite-size florets
- 2 small zucchinis, quartered lengthwise and cut into 1-inch lengths
- 4 asparagus spears (about 5 inches long), peeled, trimmed, and cut into thirds
- 1½ cups green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
- ½ cup fresh or frozen peas
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cups thinly sliced mushrooms
- 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh red or green chile, or about ½ teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
- 3 cups seeded, diced ripe tomatoes, reserve the juice separately
- ¼ cup finely chopped fresh parsley
- 6 fresh basil leaves, chopped
- 1 pound spaghetti or spaghettini
- 4 tablespoons (½ stick) butter
- ½ cup heavy cream, or more if needed
- 2/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 2/3 cup toasted pine nuts
Cook the broccoli, zucchini, asparagus, and green beans in boiling salted water until crisp but tender, about 4 minutes. Add the peas and cook for 1 minute more. Drain and refresh the vegetables in cold water. Drain and set aside in a mixing bowl.
Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a nonreactive large skillet over medium heat. When hot, add the mushrooms and chile and sauté for about 2 minutes. Add the remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil, the garlic, and tomatoes and cook, stirring gently so as not to break up the tomatoes, for about 4 minutes. Add the parsley and basil; stir and set aside.
Cook the spaghetti in boiling salted water until just al dente, the spaghetti must retain just a slight resilience in the center. Drain.
Meanwhile, in a nonreactive pot large enough to hold the drained spaghetti and all of the vegetables, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the cream and Parmesan and stir constantly until heated through. When hot, reduce the heat and cook gently on and off the heat until smooth. Add the spaghetti and toss quickly to blend. Add half of the vegetables and pour in the reserved juice from the tomatoes. Toss and stir over very low heat until the mixture is heated through, 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Add the remaining vegetables 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 soup or spaghetti bowls. Spoon some of the tomato mixture over each serving. Serve immediately.
1992 Molly O'Neill