There is almost a feeling of full circle with this dish for me. As I have waxed a lot on Instagram, the last two summers have been very good in terms of nurturing a green thumb and my budding confidence in growing things. In the years past, when I lived in Manhattan, I had successfully established the frailty of even the hardiest herbs like rosemary; repeatedly! There was nothing I touched that would grow, from sprouts to potted herbs.
Last year, I hesitantly started with herb planlings from the farmers' market and a very late planting cherry tomatoes. Imagine my surprise when the former thrived all season and the latter survived (and bore a few fruit) despite my lack of sense in timing as well as care (I didn't know I had fan the damn plant for it to fruit. Whatever fruit it did bear was a result of pollination thanks to the Fall winds and none to me. Well, lesson learnt for this year; I have mini-table fan ready for just the purpose!). The rosemary even survived the Winter (I brought it indoors) and just celebrated a year of flourishing!
I would like to pat myself on the back, perhaps, for ultimately growing up. But, I have a sneaking suspicion that there were more forces at play than a simple reversal of experiences. Chance certainly smiled on me. Sometimes, I wonder if it is the Brooklyn air or some metaphysical manifestation of my state of mind, transitioning from the chaos and confusion of the city to the calmer reflective tones I have imbibed since moving to Brooklyn. Who knows! I do know, however, that I am vastly enjoying my current change of green fortunes! :)
This year, I decided to be more ambitious. I tenuously planted a few different seeds, including peas. The original idea was to simply harvest the shoots for eating. But, when they sprouted and looked so hopeful, it seemed a crying shame to lop their heads off for momentary gratification. Yet, I wanted to enjoy the tenderness that the pea shoots offer. So, I replanted and potted half the sprouts and, well, ingested the rest gladly.
Do you remember the cover of the Spring issue of my magazine? No? Look below and to the right, you have it there. By the way, you can also download it for free and access 20+ recipes for all meals. (Well... I could hardly overlook that native opportunity for self-promotion ;-)).
Anyway, the original pea shoots made the cover! And, now I have the mature plant that has been sending sweet, juicy, oh so tasty pods my way every so often. I planted about 5 of the sprouts and each one gave me approximately one plump pod a week. I collected, nay, hoarded them carefully in my fridge, warning everybody away from daring to nibble on them. When I had a handful, I decided it was time to feast...
This is what came of it. A simple clean pasta that spoke the volumes of love, care (this time, I really did. You see, last year was a dice toss and I saw it as such. But, this year was to be a planned happiness) and the sweetness of home grown anything. Granted nothing in that dish other than the peas had anything with my TLC but, yet, I warrant, as a proud gardner (mother of my pea plant??), that the flavors were distinctly elevated by those peas. Yes, they must be!
Needless to say, the concept of the dish rises above where the ingredients came from. However, I will say that it brings the added flourish of accomplishment, which, certainly makes it special and beyond virtue.
Also, on the subject of eating half grown things, such as pea shoots, I will go out on a limb and say that as tasty as they are, they are not worth missing out on the sweet pods that they can birth when fully grown! But, that's just me...
Sugar Snap Peas and Asparagus Pasta Primavera
with Flaked Roast Fish
Handful of young sweet pea pods
Few stems of asparagus, cut in ~2 inch lengths
1 Thai red chili, sliced thin on the bias
2 red scallion shoots, stem and leaves, thinly sliced or use 1 shallot
1 clove, garlic
sprig of fresh basil
1/2 cup flaked roasted fish (or from the can, drained)
4T cup olive oil
salt and pepper (loads!)
1/3 lb of your favorite pasta, fresh or dried (I used brown rice pasta here)
If using dried pasta, start the water for it now and cook the pasta. If using fresh pasta, get the water to boil but wait to add the pasta, until after you add the peas into the sauce.
Heat olive oil to a gently heat and saute the onion and garlic until soft. Add the sliced chili and toss for a minute.
Increase the heat to high and add the peas and asparagus. Sear and saute for two minutes. Add the fresh pasta in now, if using.
Lower the heat and add the drained pasta into the pan along with a couple of tablespoons of the pasta water. Season with salt and generous amount of pepper and toss to coat and mix.
Remove from heat and sprinkle the fish over the pasta. The heat will warm it up. Do not toss or the fish with break.
Serve immediately with fresh basil (and cheese if desired).