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
25ml olive oil
50g grated Parmesan
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
There are more recipes and photographs on our blog Lettercollumkitchenproject.wordpress.com.