Pheasant Pasta Primavera

  • 08/02/2016
6cda5bab-fd09-4834-9505-dad3d196b365 Summer temperatures continue to rise throughout the country, especially in the Midwest and Northeast. Coupled with the humidity, outdoor conditions are best described as sweltering. During this time of year, most people would prefer to eat light and dine on something refreshing.
Pasta primavera loosely translates to “spring vegetables” in Italian and owes it roots to Canada. Allegedly during the 1970s, when a famous New York chef was hired to cook for an Italian baron, the baron’s guests grew tired of traditional Italian fare and requested something different, something light. Thus, primavera was born. Though some primavera recipes call for cream, fresh vegetables remain the key ingredient in this traditional dish. Additionally, while cream is often a great addition to any pasta dish, it tends to add heft to a meal. During these dog days of summer, the simpler and lighter we dine, the better.       
Makes two servings.


  • 2 pheasant breasts, butterflied and sliced
  • 1 summer squash, halved and sliced
  • Half medium red onion, julienne
  • 10 ounces cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, black pepper
  • Half cup sherry cooking wine
  • 16-ounce box penne pasta
  • 1 ounce fresh basil, chiffonade


Thaw pheasant breasts completely. Butterfly each breast then slice diagonally into 2-inch long, half-inch wide strips. Set aside. 
Cut ends off medium red onion and halve onion. Cut one side julienne and place mixing bowl. Halve summer squash and cut into half-inch slices. Add to mixing bowl and mix with onion slices. Cut a 10-ounce carton of cherry tomatoes in half and place in small bowl. Set aside. Peel and mince garlic. For basil chiffonade cut, roll large basil leaves lengthwise until leaves resemble shape of a cigarette. Cut thin strips perpendicular to roll.
Bring large pot of water to boil (optional: lightly salt and oil water prior to adding noodles). Add box of penne and stir often for 8 to 9 minutes. Drain water and rinse noodles in cold water. Oil noodles so they don’t stick together.
In a large skillet, add 2 tablespoons butter and heat on medium. Add pheasant and garlic to skillet and lightly salt and pepper pheasant. Sauté until pheasant strips brown then add summer squash, red onion and 1 tablespoon of butter to skillet. Continue to sauté and stir contents. Once vegetables start to soften (approximately 2 to 3 minutes), deglaze skillet with sherry cooking wine. Stir. Add six handfuls of penne, cherry tomatoes and 2 tablespoons butter. Stir and cook until pheasant is cooked thoroughly and tomatoes are slightly soft. Garnish with fresh basil.   
Former line cook and passionate denizen of the outdoors, Jack Hennessy is the author of the blog “Braising the Wild.” He lives with his wife in St. Louis Park, Minnesota. Follow him on Twitter @WildGameJack or on Facebook at
Photo credit: Dara Hennessy