A dish for early summer

Posted on: 6th May, 2014

Category: A Flavour of West Cork

Contributor: Karen Austin

Spring is a time of potential rather than plenty in our vegetable garden but saying that, we are already eating pak choi and rocket and there will be salad leaves to pick this coming week. We are slowly catching up and the beautiful weather has been helping everything along.

The farmers market is beginning to offer asparagus, broad beans and baby courgettes. All these vegetables are a real treat after months of eating root vegetables and cabbages.

Pasta Primavera, true to its name, is just the dish for this time of the year

It uses the new season vegetables, little bits of this and little bits of this and that, showcasing the intense flavours. It’s very flexible so you can use whatever you can get your hands on. Try to find a selection of three or four vegetables such as broad beans, peas, asparagus, courgettes etc. Be sure to buy small courgettes, as when they get big, they are essentially water-balls and although they look good the flavour is pretty diluted. Sometimes I make the recipe with cream and other times with a little pesto and olive oil. It depends whether you want to go down the dairy or olive oil route.

This is the dairy version. If you want to make the pesto version add the pesto and a spoonful of pasta cooking water to the vegetables at the same time as draining the pasta.

The tricks is to cook each vegetable quickly and in the order of time that it takes to cook and to coordinate cooking the pasta so that the sauce and pasta are ready at the same time.



1 small new season onion

1-2 small courgettes

about 1 cup of podded broad beans

OR about 1 cup of peas ( frozen will do the job)

1 bunch of asparagus

25g butter

25ml olive oil

50g grated Parmesan

250ml cream

Salt and cracked black pepper

Pasta, fresh or dried

A handful of chopped parsley



Put a large pot of salted water on to boil for the pasta and another one to blanch the beans

Pod the beans and when the water is boiling add a little salt and the broad beans. Cook them for three to four minutes, depending how big they are, then drain them and refresh in cold water.

Snap the woody end from the asparagus and chop the stem in centimetre pieces saving the last 9-10cms at the spear end.

Cut the courgette(s) in quarters lengthwise and then into approx 1cm cubes.

Peel and chop the onion

Heat a pan and add the butter and oil. Add the chopped onion and cook for a minute. Stir the asparagus stems into the onions then cook for a couple of minutes more before adding the chopped courgette and asparagus tips to the pan. Season with salt and cracked black pepper, then cook on a high heat for a few minutes. Add the cream, the peas and beans. Bring to the boil and let the sauce bubble up to reduce and then stir in the Parmesan. Check the seasoning.

The sauce takes ten to twelve minutes once the pan is hot so time the pasta accordingly. Read the instructions on the packet and follow the cooking time.

Drain the pasta into and toss together with the sauce. Serve immediately with a little chopped parsley and grated Parmesan.

The Summer Vegetarian Cooking class in on Saturday, May 10. We’ll be using the new season vegetables to make delicious salads, lunch and dinner dishes and something sweet.

If you are interested please drop into the shop, Lettercollum Kitchen Project, 22 Connolly Street, Clonakilty or send me an email to karen@lettercollum.ie.

There are more recipes and photographs on our blog Lettercollumkitchenproject.wordpress.com.


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Wave to Mary! 65-year-old Mary Nolan Hickey is running around the entire coast of the Island of Ireland to raise funds & awareness for the RNLI and is currently running the roads of West Cork.

Mary is the only woman to have completed every single Dublin Marathon (all 38 of them). She’s also completed the grueling Marathon des Sables in the Sahara Desert, known as the ‘toughest foot race on earth’.

To mark her 50th year involved in Athletics Mary is taking on her biggest challenge yet (even though she thought she’d already done that when completing the Dublin Marathon when she was over six months pregnant!) She wants to raise as much money as possible for the RNLI.

Mary started her epic journey in Arklow, Co. Wicklow, on New Year’s Day. She aims to cover up to 5000 kilometers, using coastal routes, over the next five months. She hopes to get back in time to get her first pension payment in June when she turns 66.

Mary will stop off at as many RNLI stations as possible, on her once in a lifetime adventure. As far as she knows no other woman has ever taken on this challenge.

Speaking about her journey Mary said:

“I wanted to prove that age not a barrier. Coming from a coastal town I have a deep affinity with our local RNLI station & volunteers and have huge admiration for the brave men and women who risk their lives to save lives at sea”.

Mary, who’s depending on the goodwill of communities along her route for accommodation, has been astounded by the response so far. “The support has been overwhelming,” she said. “I have met the most amazing and encouraging people along the way”.

To see more about Mary’s adventures, and to pinpoint her location today, check out her Facebook page - rnlilapofthemap2018.

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20th March, 2018  ·  


This Saturday the 10th March, will see some magically curious activity as local Bandon national schools compete in a Wizarding Harry Potter Quiz. The prize will be the beautiful Bandon Banshee Perpetual Cup.

As any Harry Potter enthusiast knows, Bandon has the unique honour of having a character named after the town. The Bandon Banshee, was referred to as the nemesis of Gilderoy Lockhart in the Chamber of Secrets. The book grossed €60 million in sales and was the 7th highest earning film of all time.

Locals, looking to enhance the town for young people, saw the quiz as an ideal way promote the connection. The universally absorbing book series brings young readers on a huge adventure of magic, adversity and triumph. It is also an exploration of loyalty and friendship, good and evil – so it is not only popular way to engage young people, it is a hugely positive connection.

Zoe Tennyson, one of the organisers said they were delighted with the response from schools who ran a qualifying quiz as part of World Book Day. On Saturday Bandon Town Hall will be transformed into Hogwarts Great Hall, with proceeds going Bandon Playground Group, and to cover costs of the event.

Bandon Books will be rewarding the winning team with vouchers to each of the five members. The Bandon Banshee, or Bean-sidhe na Bandaan Perpetual Cup will be hotly contested – but which school will the Banshee go to??

If you have any questions please call Marguerite McQuaid on 087 900 9494
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8th March, 2018  ·  

Ballineen Foróige Young Engineers Exhibition 23 February 2018

The inaugural Ballineen Foróige Young Engineers Exhibition will take place in Gort Mhuire Hall in Ballineen this Friday 23rd February. As part of Engineers Week 2018, leaders and members of Ballineen Foróige Club have organised an exhibition which will showcase a diverse and exciting range of engineering projects that have been undertaken by members of the club over the last few weeks, with the aid of leaders and a number of local engineers.

With the aid of local pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly, along with the support of STEAM Education, a UCC based company focused on promoting science, technology, engineering, arts, and maths subjects in primary schools, Ballineen Foróige has been engaging members and leaders in all things engineering over the last six weeks. From researching, designing, and prototyping a project based on local problems, to participating in various workshops on coding and careers in engineering, Ballineen Foróige have been extremely busy in preparation for the exhibition this coming Friday night.

On the night itself, Michael Loftus, Head of Engineering at CIT, Fintan Goold, Manager at Eli Lilly and All-Ireland Cork winning Footballer, along with Geraldine Coughlan of GCA Architects & Designers, a local business, will act as judges on the night, evaluating the different engineering projects and offering some advice to the members of the club. Also in attendance will be the CEO of Foróige Seán Campbell, along with a number of local councillors, TD’s and Senators.

Leading the team of Ballineen Foróige leaders organising the event, is Rebecca Dwyer, a bioprocess engineer at Eli Lilly. Rebecca recently became a leader in the club and says that Ballineen Foróige Young Engineer Exhibition 2018 “promises to be a fun, challenging and rewarding experience for all involved and we look forward to welcoming parents, relatives, friends and members of the public to the exhibition and film screening on the evening of Friday 23rd February.” Overall, there are twelve projects entered in the exhibition. One project, led by Cian Kennefick and Charlie Nolan, members of the starting out club, examines the possibility of installing speed ramps on the road near local primary school. Fourteen-year-old Charlie says he got involved in the project as it was something to do and it gets you thinking. Cian says the most exciting part of the project was the building of the prototypes.

Both Cian and Charlie, along with thirty other members of the club will display their projects this coming Friday 23 February in Gort Mhuire Hall in Ballineen. Doors open at 8pm and the event runs until 10pm. All are welcome to attend, and admission is free. Catering, including tea and coffee, will be provided on the night.
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20th February, 2018  ·  

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Main course

17th February, 2018  ·  

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