Spring has sprung in the garden! (Though it’s supposed to be 34 degrees in the morning!!!) I’m having a blast.
About mid-February I planted the really early stuff. Carrots, radishes, turnips, along with the usual selection of greens. Collards, leaf lettuce, lots of arugula. Plus, the tops of all the root veg are delicious, too.
There are perennial herbs, mostly thyme and rosemary, plus some welcome biennial flat Italian parsley and some really gorgeous chives.
Best of all, the asparagus is coming up! Asparagus is a bit of a time investment in the garden. Depending on the variety and your climate, it takes 4 or 5 years to get a good crop. This is going to be our year! For now, though, 3 lovely spears. (Optimism helps with gardening!)
Bill’s off doing the male bonding thing tonight. I needed a 20 minute, no stress, very few dishes, absolutely fabulous kind of dinner. This is it!
First, a word about pasta. Pasta is comfort food for me. Bill’s neutral on the issue which is good because he’s also gluten-free. So, tonight’s feast was a bit predictable for me in the big picture. It’s the details that were such fun!
Recently, our large, international farmers’ market started carrying house made, organic, sprouted grain pasta. Sprouted grains are interesting for two reasons. The first is that people with gluten intolerance, rather than a serious allergy, often tolerate sprouted grain products well. Secondly, because the grains were sprouted, the body recognizes them more like vegetables than grains which means, I am told, less of an impact on blood sugar.
I bake bread with sprouted grain flour. Also Bill’s new favorite chocolate chip cookies. You can make sprouted grain flour at home or you can buy it online. I buy it from some nice women in Alabama Healthyflour.com. You can substitute it 1:1 in most recipes except really delicate pastries. Learning to make my own pasta is high on the list. For now, the DeKalb Farmers’ Market works! You can use whatever pasta you like for this recipe. One of the reasons I chose ravioli is that it doesn’t take as much water per serving, hence smaller pots, hence fewer dishes. (We’re revising the website and I have copy to write!)
The directions here are for one person and assume that this is pretty much the whole meal. It will take you a total of about 5 min. longer than it takes to boil pasta water. Adjust timing according to directions on the specific pasta you choose.
If you are blessed with a garden, grab your little snips or whatever you cut with. Go for a stroll as close to mealtime as possible. Pick small bits of whatever looks good until you have a nice handful per person, as if you were making a flower bouquet. In this case:
3 spears of asparagus
2 sprigs of thyme, about 6 inches long each
3 stems of Italian flat-leaf parsley
6 stems of arugula
greens from 3 tiny turnips (Eat the turnips for a snack. They crunch like apples and taste peppery.)
radish greens (I picked 1 leaf each from 4 or 5 radishes which weren’t quite ready to pull yet.)
5 or 6 stems of collard greens
1-2 scallions or a baby Vidalia onion if you can find one
Just double or triple these amounts to feed more people. It’s so inspiring to me that I can make really good food from a garden with so little in it!
Rinse garden treasures quickly and roll in paper towel until ready to cook, or see what there is in the fridge.
Separate ravioli and place on parchment paper dusted with non-GMO corn meal on both sides. I picked wild mushroom ravioli.*
(If you have extra ravioli, line 1/2 sheet tray with parchment paper and sprinkle with corn meal. Place ravioli on tray and sprinkle again with cornmeal. Place tray in freezer, uncovered, until ravioli are well frozen. Transfer to plastic zippy bags and freeze until needed. You don’t need to thaw them before cooking.)
Put pasta water over high heat and bring to a boil. A 4 qt. saucepan or small stock pot is good for this amount. Wait to add salt until water boils! (This helps protect the finish on your pan.)
While water is heating, add a mix of organic, unsalted butter and good olive oil, over med. heat to iron skillet or stainless saute pan, a total of about 4 Tbsp. (Not to panic. You’re making sauce, too.)
Chop onion first, white and greens, and add to butter and olive oil. Stir frequently. If using something larger like asparagus, snap off tough, bottom part of stem and chop spears and tips small. Add to pan and stir well.
Add 1 pinch of crushed red pepper flakes, to taste.
Strip thyme leaves by pinching stem at top and pulling leaves backwards toward base. Add to pan. Keep stirring, adjusting temp as needed to keep veg sautéing gently but not browning much.
When water comes to a full, rolling boil, salt generously with a couple large pinches good Celtic sea salt. Add about 6 large or 9 small ravioli, one at a time, when water returns to boil. Stir carefully with tongs and boil about 4 min. or until they begin to float on top of the water.
While ravioli are cooking, add greens, all chopped together, to skillet. Toss with tongs. When ravioli are done, use tongs to push all the veg to the edge of the skillet, forming a ring around the middle. Add a bit more olive oil if needed so the pan isn’t dry.
Remove ravioli from boiling water with tongs, placing them into center of skillet. Brown gently on each side for a couple of minutes.
Plate and mix gently. Garnish with ground pink peppercorns and freshly grated cheese, if desired. A good, imported Parmesano-Reggiano or maybe Manchego. (I usually skip the cheese with this dish.)
*Adjust seasoning as desired for different flavored ravioli. With shrimp, add about 1/2 tsp. capers in brine to veg in skillet and spritz with fresh lemon juice when plating. For meat or cheese ravioli, think light, with a bit of acid, perhaps a small drizzle of good, aged balsamic vinegar.
There’s still plenty of time to plant a garden!!!
The recipe for my “Fabulous, Easy Sprouted-flour Bread” is in my #1 Bestseller WE GATHER TOGETHER…holiday feasts with the family you have! If you don’t have one yet, now is the time. There are plenty of excellent recipes for summer holidays, bar-b-ques, and all season dependable meals.