Saturday, May 5, 2012
When I was growing up, my mom used to make us a dish called Pasta Primavera. It was some sort of short macaroni, usually shells or radiatore, a bag of "California Blend" frozen veggies, and a bechamel-based cheese sauce. Generally this sauce was made with a combination of American cheese and Parmesan.
And, you know what? I loved it. Begged for it to be made for dinner. Granted, I was kind of a weird kid. Spinach was my favorite food. It was really good though.
Pasta Primavera was an all-seasons sort of food, rather than a spring treat (yes, six years of Italian classes weren't wasted on me! Primavera=spring). Now that I'm doing this whole ethical/local eating thing, I try to make it a little lighter (to highlight the flavors of the veggies), and to only make it in the spring with the freshest vegetables I can find at the market. So, this recipe ends up being a little different every time I make it. But generally it's just sauteed spring vegetables tossed with pasta and olive oil. Sometimes there's a splash of cream or a sprinkling of cheese.
This week I had fiddleheads, spinach, and some ramps. I probably could have tossed some of the asparagus in as well, but since asparagus and fiddleheads have such similar flavor profiles (and I wanted to save the asparagus for pizza).
A note about cooking fiddleheads: They should be well washed by submerging them in water, and rubbing off any papery brown skin on them, then rinsing. To cook them, blanch them first, then saute.
A more important note about cooking fiddleheads: Just listen to your farmer in the morning when you go to buy produce. Don't forget what he said, then google how to cook them and end up on the University of Maine's food safety site where you'll read about all sorts of statistically unlikely things that could happen if you don't cook fiddleheads properly... Your farmer told you to do what's written up there.
This recipe has been shared with the Hearth and Soul Blog Hop.
6 oz whole wheat linguine
1 to 1 1/2 c fiddleheads, ends trimmed and well washed
about 8 ramps, chopped
2-3 large handfuls of spinach, well washed and roughly chopped
freshly ground black pepper
Parmesan cheese (optional)
Wash the fiddleheads well (as described above). Blanch them by cooking them in boiling water for about 6 minutes (although some sources said they needed to be boiled for 10-15...my farmer says 4-6 and he's been eating these for a long time and isn't dead; therefore I'm going with him--do your own research though), drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking. (Your water may turn a brownish green color. That's ok. Don't worry).
Bring another pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta according to package directions.
Heat a bit of olive oil over medium-high heat in a large cast-iron skillet. Add the blanched fiddleheads and the ramp roots/stems (you'll toss the leaves in later) sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper. Saute for 2-3 minutes. Add the spinach and the ramp leaves. Continue cooking until the spinach has collapsed.
In a large bowl toss together the veggies, pasta, and a bit more olive oil. Taste and adjust seasoning (I added a lot of black pepper). Serve, sprinkled with Parmesan if desired.