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May 16, 2017
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WINE WITH…Pasta Primavera with Shrimp and Salmon

In Italy it is generally served in May and June, but many of us savor one version or another of pasta primavera year round. In the summer we might dress the pasta up with juicy cherry tomatoes, slivers of zucchini and perhaps fresh corn. Fall calls for bites of butternut squash and leeks, while the winter version might feature spinach, shallots and shitake mushrooms. Still, there is nothing quite like celebrating spring--“primavera”--with the bounty of the season’s vegetables. Add a few scallops, a handful of shrimp, and/or a little fresh salmon and the dish is even more special.

Some dedicated foodies frown at the idea of adding Parmesan cheese to pasta with seafood, but we’ve enjoyed it that way in Italy and find it delicious. A tasty variation on the theme calls for Feta cheese instead of Parmesan.

Pasta Primavera with Shrimp and Salmon

Serves 4-6

Our favorite spring vegetable mix includes asparagus, green beans, artichoke hearts and peas, but other spring veggies such as pea pods, fennel or fiddlehead asparagus would also be good.

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup thinly sliced spring onions or sweet onions such as Vidalia or Walla Walla
½ orange bell pepper cut in strips
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
Red pepper flakes (optional)
Salt and pepper
½ cup white wine
½ cup water
3 cups cooked mixed vegetables cut in 1 inch pieces
1 cup peas, fresh or frozen
½ pound cooked shrimp
½ pound cooked salmon, cut or torn into 1-2 inch pieces
1 pound spaghetti, linguini or fettuccine
¼ cup Parmesan cheese plus more to pass at the table
¼ cup minced chives and/or parsley

Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large skillet and add the sliced onions. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently for a couple of minutes; then add the strips of bell pepper. Continue cooking until softened; then stir in the garlic and cook another few minutes. Season with red pepper flakes, salt and pepper; then add the wine and water. Cook over high heat a few minutes until the mixture reduces by almost half.

Bring a pot of salted water to the boil and add the pasta, cooking it according to directions on the package. Save ½ cup of the pasta cooking water in case you need it; then drain the pasta and put it into a large serving bowl. Add the cooked vegetables, peas, shrimp and salmon to the skillet with the peppers and onions and reheat carefully until the ingredients are just warmed through.

Pour the mixture into the bowl with the pasta, add the parmesan cheese, drizzle in the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, and toss thoroughly. If it seems dry, pour in the reserved pasta cooking water and toss again. Sprinkle the minced herbs over the top and serve at once, passing more cheese at the table.

* * *
This springtime dish calls for a wine that shares its, and the season’s, virtues -- freshness, energy and vibrancy. Forget whites that are noticeably oak-driven, or reds that offer aggressive tannins. Go instead for youthful vivacity. Whites generally work better than reds, but our tastings revealed that a light-bodied, fresh red wine can be mighty appealing.

More recipes and wine pairings:    Wine With...  
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Approx. Price


Abadía de San Campio, Rias Baixas (Spain) Albario 2015

(Imported by Baron Francois)


Bright citrus fruit flavors coupled with plenty of crisp acidity gave this medium-bodied wine plenty of charm. Its slightly fleshy texture enabled it to complement the seafood in the dish particularly well.

Cadaretta, Columbia Valley (Washington) “SBS” 2015


A mouthwatering blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon, “SBS” is a winner every year. It displays Sauvignon’s crisp grapefruit flavors enhanced by Semillon’s waxy texture, giving it zesty appeal with sufficient heft to partner well with a dish like this.

Liberated, North Coast (California) Sauvignon Blanc 2015


A new wine for us, Liberated’s Sauvignon proved delightful. Unlike many California renditions, it offers true varietal aroma and flavor. Quite long on the palate and able to hold its own with everything in the pasta bowl, it was a delicious surprise.

Talbott, Monterey (California) Pinot Noir “Kali Hart” 2014


We included this wine in our tasting as a nod to red-only drinkers, but ended up choosing it very much on its merits. Light and graceful, it offers fresh fruit (cherry) flavors, few noticeable tannins, but firm acidity, so seems exceptionally well-balanced. It loved the salmon in our primavera!

Wittmann, Rheinhessen (Germany) Riesling “dry” 2015

(Imported by Loosen Bros. USA)


True to the label, this wine tastes quite dry. It also is very fresh, with tart apple and lemon-like flavors, and plenty of zingy acidity. That freshness is what made it such an attractive partner for this springtime dish.