Monday, June 20, 2011

The Spoils of Spring

We've been running around like little chickens with our heads cut off for the past few days.  Remember that list of goals I had last week?  I accomplished most of them, and some other ones!  We bought a couch and a TV stand.  We painted the living room.  We bought some decorative wall thingies.  Our backyard container garden is off to a great start (check out the details over on the Coppertop Garden page).  We managed to get our apartment tidy enough to show to CTG's parents, and then I cooked dinner for them!


Yes.  That's how awesome I am.

One of the best things about fresh local produce in the summer is how little you have to do to prepare it.  Many things are fantastic just as they come from the market - give me a ripe tomato, sliced on a plate, and I call it lunch.  Drizzle it with olive oil, and serve with fresh mozzarella and basil, and I die a happy woman.  I've made several happy meals out of a bunch of asparagus: steamed and dipped in some leftover egg salad dressing, ribboned on top of a pizza, blanched and stirred into leftover curry, fried in olive oil instead of potatoes alongside a juicy burger.

And then there's this little pasta dish I made for my in-laws on Friday night.  The one I waited three days to make, after finding the fresh peas!  I'm glad I gave it some time to solidify in my head, though.  It was worth the wait.

Spoils of Spring Pasta (Peas, Asparagus, and Mint)

16 oz. long, flat pasta (I used linguine, but I think fresh tagliatelle would be amazing)
2 T olive oil
1 T butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bunch spring onions, white parts sliced into thin rings
2 bunches fresh asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 cups shelled fresh peas (or frozen peas), blanched
1/3 cup fresh mint leaves, sliced into thin strips
6 oz. fresh goat cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Boil a large pot of water, salt it, and cook the pasta until 1-2 minutes from done.  Drain, reserving a cup and a half of the starchy pasta water.  Meanwhile, heat the oil and butter in a wide, deep pan, and add the onions and garlic.  Saute for 2-3 minutes, until soft.  Add peas and asparagus, stir, and add about a cup of pasta water.  Cook for a couple of minutes, until the asparagus is bright green, and then add the pasta.  I had to transfer it to the big pasta pot at this point so that I could toss it together.  Toss over low heat until the pasta has absorbed most of the sauce, adding more pasta water if it gets too thick.  Remove from heat and toss in the mint and half of the goat cheese.  Taste, and adjust seasonings.  Transfer to a large bowl, and crumble the other half of the goat cheese on top.  Garnish with sliced mint or whole mint leaves, if desired.  Serve with green salad and warm bread (I made a rosemary focaccia).

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