A meat-free Italian treat for spring


Bugger the grey skies. Sod the distinctly cool temperatures.

It’s spring and I’m going to eat as thought it’s that season.
So a primavera pasta dish with a few bits and pieces picked up at Moseley Farmers’ Market and local shops.
It’s vegetarian, too, so you can glow with self-righteousness at your abstemiousness.
If you want to give it a go, feel free to chop and change the ingredients according to what looks good, well-priced and suitable.


Here’s the ingredients I used for a meal for two

A bunch of English asparagus
A bundle of red chard
A courgette
A bunch of spring onions
Green beans
A large tomato
Half-a-handful of pine nuts
A buffalo mozzarella
A sprinkling of parmesan
A clove of garlic
Olive oil
Good quality spaghetti
Squeeze of lemon juice (optional)
Salt and pepper.
And a decent bottle of Italian wine.

Here’s what I did

Begin by prepping the asparagus: snap the stems at the point where they easily bend and neatly trim the scraggy ends if you are OCD about trimming scraggy ends.
Chop them a into lengths around 2ins long.
Top and tail and the green beans and halve them.
Put the beans and asparagus in a colander and plunge into a big saucepan containing salted boiling water.
Cook them for a couple of minutes and plunge them into cold water to halt the cooking process and to retain the colour, texture and flavour.
Trim the ends of the chard and chop the stalks and leaves into chunky portions.
Put these in a colander and plunge this into the same pan in which you cooked the beans and asparagus.
Cook briefly and plunge the chard into cold water.
Drain the beans, asparagus and chard and put to one side.
Slice the courgette into chunky pieces ready for use.
Skin and de-seed the tomato and cut the flesh into strips ready for use.
Lightly toast the pine nuts in a small dry frying pan, keeping a careful eye on them so they don’t burn and become bitter.
Chop the spring onions, including the green leaves.
Roughly rip the mozzarella.
Halve a garlic clove and use it to rub the bottom of a large frying pan into which you should pour a large amount of good olive oil.
Put the pan over a medium heat, wait for it to warm up and then fry the courgette until it begins to brown.
Throw in half the spring onions and reduce the heat as they, too, start to brown.
Add the drained beans, asparagus, chard and half the pine nuts and warm through over a low heat.
Add black pepper and give the mixture a taste to check the seasoning. You may want to enliven it with a squeeze of lemon juice.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta in the water in which you’d blanched the apsaragus, beans and chard.
Drain the spaghetti and then add to the frying pan containing the vegetables, pine nuts and oil. Mix thoroughly.
Divide between two bowls and garnish with the mozzarella, the rest of the pine nuts and spring onions and the strips of tomato.
Sprinkle with parmesan.
Then tuck into the food and bollock back glasses of hefty Italian red wine as you despair about the British weather.