Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Spring Pasta with Blistered Cherry Tomatoes

Vegetarian pasta dishes are usually really dull. It was the cop out of chefs made to appease the vegetarians when when they couldn't be bothered to do anything more clever. But then I saw this recipe in Food and Wine and it is really yummy! It is really is a Spring Pasta, and the flavors are wonderful.  I've probably made it 3 times this month and tomorrow will be #4. I made a few modifications to the original.
  • Greens - spinach or swiss chard
  • 1 garlic clove, sliced
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Flaky sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 pounds grapes tomatoes
  • 6 scallions, white and tender green parts only, cut into 1-inch lengths
  • 1 bunch asparagus, cut into 1 1/2-inch lengths
  • 1 pound mafaldine or other curly, wide noodles
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
  • About 1/2 cup shaved ricotta salata cheese, for garnish
  1. Preheat the oven to 425°. In a bowl, toss the tomatoes with  2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1/2 tablespoon of sea salt and 1 teaspoon of pepper and spread on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast the vegetables for about 25 minutes, until the tomatoes are very juicy but not broken down.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large pot of salted boiling water, cook the scallions until just softened, 1 minute. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the scallions to a bowl. Add the asparagus to the pot and cook until just crisp-tender, about 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the asparagus to the bowl. 
  3. Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook until just al dente. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water.
  4. Return the pasta to the pot. Add the greens and cook only a few minutes. Add the scallions, asparagus, butter,  and half of the parsley .Add the reserved pasta water and cook until the pasta is al dente. Gently fold in the roasted tomatoes and any juices and season with sea salt and pepper. Garnish with the shaved cheese and the remaining parsley and serve right away.

Pruning Class

Earlier this week, our friend Julie tipped us off that one of the garden centers was offering a class on pruning. J signed us up, and tonight we went.

Pruning is in the category of Great Mysteries for me, along picking locks, wearing makeup, and playing bridge. Our instructor was a very non-threatening person and she went over the basics.
J and Julie watch a demonstration

It seems to boil down to  a few simple rules. Use a sharp, appropriately sized clippers. That makes sense. You don't want to want to use clippers that are too small to do the job, or ones that just crush the stems. Another thing is to use alcohol to clean them between plants. I never thought of this before tonight, but of course you can spread diseases from one plant to another with your clippers.

She talked about when to prune, and how to know where the new growth would come. It was interesting and useful. And it made me think about one of my bucket list items - becoming a Master Gardener. Maybe it's time to get serious about making that happen.