Thursday, September 27, 2012

Pasta Primavera for the Fall

This Sunday's Fairmount Neighborhood Farmers Market you can look forward to the following offerings from Sweetwater Farm and Fair Valley Farm:
  • variety of sweet and spicy peppers (try in the pasta sauce below)
  • variety of tomatoes including bargains on flats of San Marzano romas
  • Akane apples and Asian pears from SLO Farm (time for roasted apple sauce)
  • Italian prune plums (make a galette)
  • cantaloupe and honeydew mellons
  • kohlrabi, baby carrots, cabbage, and celery (make some kimchi)
  • kale and collards (try as a kale salad)
  • broccoli and eggplants (try a roasted salad)
  • lettuces and baby lettuce salad mix
  • zucchini and summer squash
  • variety of potatoes including bargain bags of red potatoes
  • sweet onions, garlic, leeks, and fennel
  • fresh herbs, including basil, cilantro, dill, thyme, oregano, and sage
  • tomato sauce and pesto
  • naturally fermented pickles, dilly beans, and sauerkraut
  • homemade jams (delicious in crepes)
  • Scottish oats (make this teff oatmeal)
  • a selection of dried beans and grains from Camas Country Mill
  • pastured chicken (try spatchcocked)
  • pastured pork: pork chops, shoulder roasts, and ham roasts
  • pastured lamb: ground, rib chops, and leg roasts (grill some burgers)

Last week we used our left over Fair Valley Farm ham in pasta primavera, which was my family's extra special meal when I was growing up, reserved for birthdays and other celebrations. The funny thing about pasta primavera is that it's not really a springtime dish; it really makes more sense at the height of summer or during the warm fall days we've been so lucky to have. The classic Le Cirque recipe calls for asparagus and tomatoes, which are never going to be at their peek at the same time. Instead, I recommend pairing summer's sweet cherry tomatoes with the best produce of the season. I used leeks, sweet peppers, zucchini, and summer squash, all fresh from Sweetwater Farm.

Le Cirque's recipe uses a cream sauce, which my family's version omitted. Instead, the core flavor I remember from my childhood recipe was cubed ham and walnuts. Here I experimented with turning the walnuts into a very loose pesto for the kids, and the adults got the added layer of sauteed goodies (while the kids ate their veggies raw on the side). And because this was an extra special dish, we made fresh pasta to soak up all the flavors of the end of summer's harvest.

Pasta Primavera for the Fall

for the pasta
4 eggs
3 cups flour

Combine the eggs and flour in a food processor and mix until the dough starts to come together in a ball. Add a dribble of water if you need to. On a clean work surface, combine the dough into a log and cut it into about 12 pieces. Roll them out with a pasta maker (a fun task for kids) and cut them into fettucini. Cook the pasta in rapidly boiling, salted water for just a couple of minutes. Reserve a half cup of the pasta water if you need to moisten the sauce at the end. Drain the pasta and toss in a large bowl with the walnut sauce and toppings.

for the sauce
2 small or 1 large leek
2 medium bell peppers
2 small or 1 medium zucchini or summer squash
1 pint cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup cubed ham
1/4 cup white vermouth
1 cup walnut pieces
1 large garlic clove
1 cup basil leaves
~3/4 cup olive oil
salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese and more for passing around the table

1. Prepare all of the vegetables, rinsing them and cutting them into small bite-sized pieces, except for the cherry tomatoes which you will keep whole.

2. Peel and mince the garlic. Chop the walnut pieces into small pieces (I did this with a meat pounder). Alternatively, you could combine the garlic clove and walnuts in a food processor and pulse a few times.

3. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add about a 1/4 cup of olive and when it is warm, add the garlic and walnuts to the oil and saute for a couple of minutes until they are fragrant, but before they start to burn. Transfer the walnut mixture to a large serving bowl that will hold all of the pasta. Add a 1/2 cup of grated Tear the basil leaves and toss into the bowl.

4. Wipe out the skillet and return to medium high heat. Add another 1/4 cup of olive oil. Add the chopped leaks and saute for a couple of minutes. Add the chopped peppers and saute for a couple of minutes. Add the chopped zucchini and summer squash with a generous pinch of salt and saute for a couple of minutes. Now add the ham for a minute, and then the cherry tomatoes. When the cherry tomatoes have just started to collapse under the heat, add the vermouth. Cook for another minute and then turn off the heat. Season with a generous amount of fresh pepper and salt to taste.

5. When the pasta is cooked, toss it in the bowl with the walnuts, parmesan cheese, and basil leaves and drizzle on about 1/4 cup olive oil. This is the point at which I removed some pasta for picky eaters/pesto purists/raw foodists. Then toss in all of the sauteed vegetables and ham. If the pasta seems dry, add a splash of reserved pasta water. Serve at once, with special occasion napkins and dishes.

1 comment:

Anna said...

This recipe brings back memories! It sounds so delicious.