Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Original Pasta Primavera Recipe – Created By Ed Giobbi


An interesting story surrounds the origin of pasta primavera. Ed Giobbi, in his cookbook Eat Right, Eat Well – The Italian Way says, “I feel that something should be said about “pasta primavera,” perhaps the most popular pasta recipe in America today and certainly the most misunderstood. I would like to emphasize that the pasta primavera that is so popular in American today is not of Italian origin, but was created in Le Cirque restaurant.”

One of Ed’s claims to fame is that he invented the now well-know dish pasta primavera. Ed tells the story that in 1973 his good friends Chef Jean Vernges and restaurateur Sirio Maccioni visited his home to see if he would contribute a pasta recipe for their new restaurant, Le Cirque, in New York City. He put together a favorite pasta dish of his, “Pasta Primavera,” which was then unknown in New York City. It was a beautifully simple dish of unrefrigerated garden-ripe tomatoes cut into cubes, freshly chopped fresh basil and Italian parsley, very good olive oil, finely chopped garlic, salt, and freshly ground black pepper. and served it over spaghettini.

It turns out that the simple spaghetti dish with garden-ripe tomatoes that Ed whipped up that day for his friends was the forerunner of one of the most popular dishes in America – Pasta Primavera.


When New York’s Le Cirque opened in 1976 and popularized pasta primavera, Craig Claiborne & Pierre Franey called it “by far the most talked-about dish in Manhattan.” However, at least two other people other than Ed Giobbi have laid claim to its creation. In his memoir, Le Cirque’s owner Sirio Maccioni gave credit to his wife, and Chef Jean Vergnes, who doctored Giobbi’s version with cream and vegetables for the 4 star restaurant. It’s interesting to note that despite Chef Vergnes’ claim of inventing pasta primavera, he was said to hate it so much that he forced his cooks to make it in the restaurant’s hallway. Here is Le Cirque’s pasta primavera recipe, including all 10, as the New York Times calls them, pain-in-the-neck steps.

I have made Ed Giobbi’s original simple pasta primavera using three different colored vine ripe, locally grown heirloom tomatoes. & homegrown if you have them. In his cookbook Ed gives three recipes for pasta primavera. In one he recommends blending the tomatoes in a food processor so the spaghetti will be easier to twirl with your fork and at the same time pick up some of the tomatoes and basil. If you want to make it easier to eat, use any ordinary garden fresh tomatoes instead of the heirlooms. In my opinion whirling precious heirloom tomatoes in a food processor would be akin to putting a Chanel suit in the washing machine.
 

Ed Giobbi’s Pasta Primavera with Heirloom Tomatoes
Adapted from Eat Right, Eat Well – The Italian Way by Edward Giobbi –Serves 2, easily doubled - use homegrown tomatoes if you have them

½ pound thin spaghetti
Kosher salt for the pasta water
1-1/2 to 2 cups fresh garden-ripe heirloom tomatoes, at room temperature
2 small cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 tablespoons slivered fresh basil, plus a few small leaves for garnish
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley
Fleur de Sel (French sea salt) or any good fine grain sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Boil pasta in salted water, following package directions.

In the meantime, cut the tomatoes into slices parallel to the stem and discard the stem. Cut the tomato slices into ½” cubes and place in a colander to drain. About 2 to 3 minutes before the pasta is done, place the drained tomatoes in a large bowl with the remainder of the ingredients and stir very gently. Be sure to treat the heirloom tomatoes with care. They tend to bruise easily.

When pasta is cooked al dente, drain well by shaking the pasta in a colander so that all of the water drains off. In a large bowl, toss the hot spaghetti with the raw tomato sauce and serve immediately. Pass additional Fleur de Sel and freshly ground black pepper at the table.

Cooks note: Only make this when tomatoes are at their peak of freshness.

I am linking this to
Fresh Food Friday at La Bella Vita
Foodie Friday at Designs by Gollum
On the Menu Monday at Stone Gable

Drop by and sample all of the goodies. You won't be dissappointed.

39 comments:

  1. Are all the recipes in his book this good??? I think I need another cookbook :)

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  2. I'm delighted that you made this for two! I'm also fascinated by food history stories. I once had a friend invite me for pasta primavera and I was expecting fresh vegetables, at least dominated by tomatoes, but what I got was a mushy mix of broccoli and carrots!

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  3. That's what we had last night!
    A staple here..and I added capers..not a purist..

    I keep the juice of the tomatoes..
    Sam your colors are spectacular..mine were just red my tomatoes..
    It's just for 2 here 2:)

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  4. Those tomatoes are a sight for sore eyes. Just love this type of recipe for this time of the year. Perfect and healthy meal; thanks.
    Rita

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  5. Oh, that looks so good! Nice photos too.

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  6. What a lovey recipe. It captures the Italian summer and puts it in a bowl. I love to know the origins of the dish, and thanks to you, the mind will be as well fed as the soul. Have a wonderful day, Sam. Blessings...Mary

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  7. Thank you for all the research. It is a beautiful, tasty dish and is to be enjoyed in the harvests from the summer garden. Could eat it right now...yes I could.

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  8. Sam - This is such a colorful dish and you've presented it beautifully. It's wonderfully appealing!

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  9. I love pasta and fresh veggies, I also like that this dish eliminates the cream! I will definitely try this version!

    Oh, I burst out laughing about your Chanel suit comment! I agree! Coco's one of my favs. I did a paper on her in college many years ago!

    If you lived next door I'd give you a jar of pickles too!

    Have a great week, and happy cooking!

    Mary

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  10. That looks amazing. I don't know if it is your terrific photography or the actual dish or the two combined! I love Pasta Primavera and I enjoyed you sharing the story of its origins.

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  11. This is a wonderful way to enjoy fresh tomatoes from the garden!

    I loved learning the history behind this dish, Sam! It is interesting how many Italian "cucina povera" recipes became haute(expensive) cuisine in 1970's America.

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  12. Ooooo, another recipe for ripe tomatoes! I tried your chunky gazpacho with crabmeat this past weekend and it was wonderful. I included the link in my post today, so hopefully others will be encouraged to try it as well. :)

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  13. Beautiful! Those tomatoesare so tempting.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  14. Wow, this looks so amazing! The bright colors of the tomatoes are so rich and beautiful. It's making my mouth water :)

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  15. This is a great looking pasta, Sam!

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  16. So summery, fresh and delicious! Beautiful vibrant colour.

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  17. Your dish looks fresh and delicious and thanks for the history lesson.

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  18. This looks delicious and simple--my two favorite words for food! And since I'm getting a ton of tomatoes from my CSA nowadays, I may just have to make this soon. :-)

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  19. Thanks for pointing this out! It was great read and a great recipe. Simple is often best.

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  20. Awesome to read about the history of pasta primavera and thanks for sharing this original recipe with us. So colorful with those tomatoes!

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  21. Thank you for the background information about pasta primavera. Your dish looks lovely and I am certain tasted great!

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  22. Stumbled upon your blog. Good read re pasta primavera. Enjoying your attractive clicks!

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  23. Simple, Delicious and Gorgeous. Exactly what a pasta Primavera should be. I love that this is the original version. Must give it a try

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  24. I have made this version before - and will again. It was very famous when I was running around NYC. (Although I did have some "primaveras" in Italy prior to Le Cirque!) I agree with NOT processing the tomatoes. So what if it's a wee bit difficult to twirl with the spaghetti? You want the sunshine from every bite.

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  25. Sam, this dish looks so delicious. I could just almost eat the dish off the computer screen. Thanks for sharing with us.

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  26. How stunning! I'd be happy without any of those other, typical primavera veggies if I had a stash of beautiful heirloom tomatoes. This dinner is a dream.....mmmmmmm.

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  27. Sam, this pasta primavera looks so pretty, love the color love the flavor with all size, shape and colors of tomatoes. The pictures are absolutely gorgeous.
    Hope you are having a great week :-)

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  28. I did not know that this was an American chef who created the now infamous pasta dish. I learned something today.

    I chuckled when I read that putting heirloom tomatoes in a food processor is like putting a Chanel suit in the washer. I love it- I will have to quote you on that one.

    Velva

    Hope you had a great birthday!

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  29. I love these stories and legends that grow around certain recipes. It's funny to think of something ubiquitous like Pasta Primavera as "the talk of the town." I'm with you on the heirloom tomatoes - keep them out of the food processor!

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  30. We ate very similarly this week :) My cherry tomatoes have provided us with a couple of wonderful fresh tomato sauces for pasta recently.

    How interesting to read about the origin of the recipe, Sam!

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  31. I think my favorite part is the tiny basil leaves garnish. So cute but effective. I avoid basil as a garnish because the edges of chopped or chiffonade basil bruise so quickly. I love finding little gems like this on blogs. Thanks for the tip!

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  32. My husband made Pizza Margarita last night; I made Salad Caprese for dinner tonight. Our heirloom tomatoes are bearing well and I'll have to try this lovely pasta.

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  33. Sam,
    THere are so many variations of pasta primavera.....I only make it in the spring with peas and asparagus, but this version looks great!

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  34. This pasat look great . this is a piece of art.

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  35. Mmmm! I have Cherokee Purples and Black Krims ripening in the garden ... yum, can't wait.

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  36. Beautiful! What a celebration of summer! I just picked up the first of the tomatoes at the farm this morning - a variety of cherry tomatoes in gold, red and purple, and what I believe was a Cherokee Purple - can't wait for the heirlooms to start rolling off the field, and no, none of them will go in the food processor!

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  37. I have been fortunate enough to dine at Le Cirque a few times and enjoy their innovative dishes, Sam. Your pasta primavera looks delicious with your pretty heirloom tomatoes.

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Sam