JEFF TIEDEMAN COLUMN: Spring flingHave you ever gone out to eat and had something that was so good you wanted to rush to the kitchen and ask the cook for the recipe?
By: Jeff Tiedeman, Grand Forks Herald
Have you ever gone out to eat and had something that was so good you wanted to rush to the kitchen and ask the cook for the recipe?
For me, the chicken-fried halibut that I used to order years ago at the Golden Hour in downtown Grand Forks immediately comes to mind. Likewise, the barbecues we devoured as kids at school hot lunch in the basement of the old Cathedral High School in Crookston.
I have the barbecue recipe, thanks to my late Auntie Helen, who was head cook at the school. But the Golden Hour recipe, unfortunately, has escaped my grasp, although I do have a copy of a recipe that some purport is authentic. (The recipe was closely guarded by Mrs. Oliver, the Golden Hour cook.)
Now, you can add the Pasta Primavera I had a week or so ago at Mama Maria’s in East Grand Forks to the list.
It was a Friday night when we went to grab a bite at the Italian restaurant that recently relocated to the mall on DeMers Avenue on the East Side after several years on South Washington Street. And since it’s Lent (Catholics can’t eat meat on Fridays during this season of penance), I wanted something vegetarian.
I recall reading the description of the entree on the menu as saying the sauce was wine-based, which surprised me, since my past experience with primavera — which means “spring” in Italian — made me think of a plate of fresh sauteed vegetables and pasta, heavy with cream and butter and highlighted by light flavors, aromatic spices and bright colors.
But since I’m generally into healthy eating, I decided to give this dish a shot. I wasn’t disappointed, nor was Therese, who seemed more interested in my meal than hers.
In fact, the entree was so yummy that I went on the Internet in search of a recipe that would come close to duplicating the taste of one created by the talented chef at Mama Maria’s.
What I eventually decided on came from the cooks.com Web site, and in my estimation, was a fairly close representation of the Italian restaurant’s dish.
Along the way, I discovered a meat such as chicken, sausage or shrimp sometimes is added, but the focus of primavera is the vegetables. (It may contain almost any kind of veggie, but generally firm, crisp ones, such as broccoli, carrots, peas, onions and green bell peppers.)
I also found several other recipes for pasta primavera that provided a nice, light touch. One, at the Mayo Clinic Web site (www.mayoclinic.com/health/healthy-recipes/NU00417), is described as a lighter version of the traditional dish that is much lower in calories (400), fat (9 grams total, 2 grams saturated) and sodium (310 milligrams) and is fresher tasting.
Another recipe that looked interesting was on a video by self-taught chef Blaise Santianni (www.youtube.com/watch?v=v_urlODscPU). The entree, called Pasta Primavera ala Blaise, also appeared to be lower in calories and fat and featured grilled veggies instead of sauteed ones, an interesting touch.
I wish getting Mama’s Maria’s recipe was that simple.
Tiedeman is food editor at the Herald. Reach him at 780-1136 or toll-free at (800) 477-6572, or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.