You’d never know that pasta primavera, a pseudo-Italian dish that appears on virtually every chain restaurant menu, actually has roots in French haute cuisine.

The usual reproduction — a random jumble of produce tossed with noodles in a heavy, flavor-deadening cream sauce — tastes nothing like spring. Surprisingly, when we dug up the original recipe from New York’s famed restaurant Le Cirque, our colleagues found it wasn’t all that inspiring either, despite taking about two hours to prepare and dirtying five pans.

First, the vegetables (which had been painstakingly blanched one by one) were bland. Second, the cream-, butter- and cheese-enriched sauce dulled flavors and didn’t really unify the dish.

If we wanted a true spring-vegetable pasta — with a few thoughtfully chosen vegetables and a light but full-bodied sauce that clung well to the noodles and brought the dish together — we’d have to start from the beginning.

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