Thursday, June 9, 2011
This meal was made with vegetables from our first CSA of the season! Two years ago we tried a 3/4 box for the first time and became hooked. Last year we split a full CSA with my friend Amy and her family. This year we are doing a full box - just the two of us. I foresee lots of meal planning in my future to ensure that nothing goes to waste, but I think we're up to the challenge.
This is our CSA box from week one:
We got one head of red leaf lettuce, one bulb of fresh garlic, one white sweet onion, one red onion, one pint of strawberries, one bunch of basil, 1/2 pound of zucchini, 2 pounds of red potatoes, and one bunch of carrots.
For the most part, we made very simple meals with all this produce. We ate some of the strawberries for dessert and again the next day with breakfast, just plain. We made salads for our lunches all week with the lettuce and basil (topped with wild rice salad to make it filling). We roasted the garlic and some of the potatoes in the oven with just oil, salt and pepper. One night we had a craving out of nowhere for chili dogs so we used some of the red onion for a topping and had carrot sticks on the side. We had a few friends over for an impromptu BBQ on Friday and grilled the sweet onion to put on the burgers.When I had more time on Sunday I used the rest of the red potatoes to make an amazing blue cheese and red potato tart (recipe courtesy of Smitten Kitchen).
The zucchini and the rest of the carrots were put to good use in this pasta dish. On a whim, I bought a package of lavender fettuccine from a company called Pappardelle's. They had a booth at the LA farmer's market when I was there in May. It turns out they sell their pasta at many other farmer's markets, including my hometown of Vancouver, WA and nearby Battle Ground, so my parents can swing buy and pick some up for me when I want more. I still can't believe Battle Ground, WA has grown large enough that it can justify having it's own farmer's market. Craziness!
Anyway, back to the food. I based my version of this dish off of a Mark Bittman recipe (here's a video I found of him cooking it). He actually infuses real lavender into sauteed shredded veggies and tosses it with plain bow-tie pasta. Since my pasta was already flavored, I didn't need to add fresh lavender. I did want just one sprig to use as a garnish, but alas, I could not find any after visiting three different grocery stores. I ended up using a little rosemary from my backyard.
Shredding the vegetables in the food processor made this meal quick and easy, but I think it would also be fun to use a vegetable peeler and slice them into long ribbons. Maybe next time I'll try that. Or you can try that and tell me about it.
I loved, loved this pasta. I loved the pleasant aroma while it was boiling, and the taste was delicate and subtle - you could tell it was lavender but it didn't hit you so hard you felt like you were ingesting soap.
Lavender Fettuccine with Shredded Vegetables
adapted from Mark Bittman Minimalist column in the NYTimes - August 2008
Notes: You could use any long cut pasta for this recipe. It would also be good with farfalle (bow-tie) or penne. If you aren't starting with lavender pasta, you'll need a few lavender leaves and/or flowers. Add some of it when you start to saute the vegetables, then a little more, to taste, once you toss the pasta together with the vegetables at the end.
8 ounces lavender fettuccine
2 small zucchini, trimmed
2 small carrots, peeled and trimmed
1 small red bell pepper, cored
3-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2-3 cloves crushed garlic
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it.
Meanwhile, shred the vegetables in a food processor or just use a grater. Add the oil to a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and let it cook for a few minutes, until it starts to brown. Add the vegetables and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they start to soften.
Once the water is boiling, add the pasta. Cook until it is just barely tender, using the cooking time on the package as a guide (you don't want to cook it all the way because it will continue to cook when you add it to the vegetables in the hot skillet later on). Drain, reserving some of the cooking water. Add the pasta to the vegetables, stirring gently to combine. Continue to cook for a few more minutes, adding the pasta water as needed to keep the mixture moist.
When the pasta and vegetables are tender but not mushy, it's done! Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed.