I've got it. I have finally pin pointed what it is that I love about being in the kitchen and cooking so much. Slow food. It makes me happy.
About a fortnight ago, I was standing at one of the local farmers stores at the Saturday markets staring at some green peas still in their pods. Although, at the time, I wasn't quite sure it was green peas that I was staring at. They looked like sugar snap peas, but they were fatter. They were long like beans but I knew that there was something hiding inside them. Next to them were what looked like little baskets of the more familiar type of green peas with a sign next to them saying 'freshly shelled'. Ah ha! Before and after. So I double checked with the lady behind the bench that the fat sugar snap hiding beans were indeed pods of fresh peas, then I picked up a bag and was ready to pay. 'Are you sure you don't want the ones in the basket that are already freshly shelled?' The lady behind the bench didn't seem certain that I, not actually knowing what I was looking at, should take home the un-shelled version. 'No thank you'. I knew that I was going to enjoy this.
It makes me happy to stand in the kitchen for an extra 15 minutes shelling peas. I appreciate that in that time I am properly aware of how my peas came to be peas, all the while getting to know what it feels and looks like to take them and their other little friends beside them, out of their pod. Just like it made me happy to spend all day last Sunday making a loaf of sourdough. It feels good to start from scratch. The food feels more authentic and appreciated to me, somehow. Speaking of sourdough, I went home from Sundays workshop with a beautiful canvas bag full of organic, high gluten flour. So now I had flour and peas. I also had a lovely fresh bunch of asparagus that was needing to be used up. True to form, I felt the urge to start from scratch and make my own pasta. The perfect way to take care of that high gluten flour and the perfect match for some lovely green spring vegetables.
Spring Vegetable Tagliatelle
prep time: 1 hour 15 minutes
cook time: 10 minutes
total time: 1 hour 25 minutes
yields: 4 servings
For the Pasta
300g high gluten, finely sieved flour (Tipo '00' is best)
3 large eggs
Sift flour onto a board or into a bowl. Make a well in the center and add slightly beaten eggs. Using your hands, mix together the eggs and flour until they form a dough. Continue to work dough to completely combine. Knead dough for approximately 5 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and silky in texture and no longer crumbly. This is important to develop the gluten in the flour so that your pasta comes out springy and al dente. Place dough into fridge for at least half an hour.
Split dough into two halves. Lightly dust a large, flat work surface with flour. Roll out the dough using a long rolling pin until the dough is approximately 2mm thick. Aim to roll the dough in a long rectangular shape about 20cm / 8 inch in length. Fold the rolled dough in half, in half again, and half once more, dusting with flour as you go to prevent the dough from sticking. Cut into 1cm / 1/2 inch wide pieces. Make a cage with your fingers and shake until the pasta separates out. Repeat with other half of dough.
For the Sauce
200 grams / 1/2 pound asparagus, trimmed, cut on diagonal into 1-inch pieces
2 cups shelled fresh green peas (you can also use frozen peas)
2 garlic cloves, finely crushed
1/2 cup finely grated aged cheese - I used Reypenaer, an aged Gouda, but Parmesan would also suit well - plus additional for serving
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tbs fresh Italian parsley, chopped
1 tbs fresh chives, chopped
Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil. Add peas and blanch for 1 minute (if you are using frozen peas, skip this step as you will add them in frozen in a couple of steps). Heat olive oil in large nonstick saucepan over medium heat. Add asparagus and sauté for 3 minutes. Add peas, garlic, 1/4 cup water, 1/2 cup cheese, cream, lemon juice, parsley and chives to pasta. Continue to cook until vegetables are just tender, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat.
Cook pasta by adding tagliatelle to a saucepan of salted, boiling water. Cook for approx 4 minutes, or until al dente. Drain pasta and toss with sauce. Serve with a sprinkle of extra Parmesan cheese and torn up chives.