Summer sweet peas and umami richnessPosted: August 5, 2011
With our wet early summer 2011, my kitchen garden was off to a stunted start. But recent weeks have been a perfect incubator for these fat little babies — sweet summer peas, beet greens, and a chard that impersonates spinach!
Borrowing from Tom’s last post’s inspiration — raiding the refrigerator — I wanted to do a raid, too, but of the raised vegetable beds.
The fresh peas are blanched, retaining firmness and sweetness, but popping green from behind a once-downy pale. Beets, too, are sweet. But their greens have more of that umami, earthy flavour. The chard/spinach greens also add that slightly mineral flavour once cooked. So… sweet and savoury will be this recipe’s main characters for a basic pasta dish with a pan sauce of juices, pasta water, tomato paste and aged balsamic.
For a base note to run throughout the upfront flavours, I’ve raided my oils cupboard. Weeks ago, I picked up a bottle of black truffle-infused olive oil from Liquid Gold in our fab Halifax Hydrostone Market (insert nod here to the Bostonians for their rebuilding help of this end of town after the WW1-era explosion).
…Completely experimental and made up without measurement, just tasting along the way.
- fresh shelled peas, blanched and set aside
- beet greens, torn and set aside
- spinach, torn and set aside
- roasted red pepper (freshly done or use from jar if you want it fast and easy), sliced and set aside.
- grated or shaved parmesan cheese, set aside.
- keep at the ready a bottle of truffle oil for a last minute splash.
- cook pasta (choose your favourite shape) in well-salted water. Time the cooking to about one minute shorter than al dente instructions because you will finish cooking the pasta in the pan sauce.
- reserve 1/2 cup of the starchy, salty pasta cooking water to use as part of pan sauce.
- meantime, using regular olive oil, pan fry one minced clove of garlic, adding beet and spinach greens, and peas.
- add red peppers.
- add a splash or two of old, sweet balsamic vinegar, and let evaporate for a few seconds in the hot pan.
- add 1/2 cut of reserved pasta cooking water.
- dissolve tomato paste into liquid.
- add pasta to the wet pan and allow to cook and absorb liquid for a couple of minutes.
- add your parmesan to the pan.
- finally, splash with truffle oil (approximately a tablespoon. A little goes a long way, and you don’t want to overpower the finished dish).
- mix and plate it up.
P.S. Aside from wine, an ideal pairing is music from The National’s High Violet: ‘Wake Up Your Saints’