Monday, April 8, 2013

   Spring has come slowly to us here in the south. I'm not so far removed from my years in New York that I'm not very thankful for 50 degree days in March and early April, but still, enough is enough! This weekend finally brought the sun out and the thermometer on our porch crept above 70. Heaven.

   For us, the best part of spring is all the amazing vegetables that suddenly begin popping up in the farmers markets scattered across town. Truth time: expecting me to get out of bed early enough on a Saturday to get to the farmers market before everything is picked over and the remains are sad and wilted is like expecting New York spring in January. It just ain't gonna happen.

   Knowing this about myself, Steve and I signed up for a spring CSA (community sponsored agriculture) share this year. When you buy a CSA share you get a weekly delivery of locally grown vegetables (we chose a farm that is also organic) to enjoy, grocery store and farmers market free. We got our first box this past Wednesday and I. Am. In. Love. We're talking rainbow swiss chard, collard greens, dinosaur kale, spring onions, asparagus, baby spinach, turnips and carrots so orange I think I see better in the dark just from handling them.

   I was so excited to unload my bounty and whisk it away to the fridge that I forgot to take a photo. I will be sure to snap a shot of this week's share- the beauty and convenience of buying into a CSA is just too fantastic not to share.

   Spring vegetables are tender and sweet, like delicate promises of what is to come. They are everything that the large, dense plethora of winter root vegetables are not. I think spring veggies come just in time to remind us that the sun will be warm once more and the breezes again gentle and refreshing.

   If I could package spring into some kind of elixir and infuse that into a pasta dish, the following recipe would be the result. It is infinitely green, sweet and delicate but at the same time very rich and satisfying on every possible gustatory level.

   In these last few weeks which bridge that time between cold and hot, I hope this dish strikes just the right balance of lightness and comfort on your dinner plate. It sure did on ours.

Spring Avocado Pesto Pasta (Vegan)
Adapted from Chloe's Kitchen

10 ounces linguine pasta
Kosher salt
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup roasted, unsalted walnuts
2 small avocados
2 cups basil leaves (pack them down into the measuring cup to get an accurate amount)
3 tablespoons olive oil
Juice from 1 lime
Freshly ground pepper
3 cups frozen sweet peas
1 bunch asparagus, cupped into 1 inch pieces
3 cups firmly packed baby spinach, roughly chopped

   Start heating a large pot of salted water on the stove. While you wait for the water to boil, place the garlic, walnuts, avocado flesh (just cut them in half, remove the pit and scrape out the flesh with a spoon), basil, olive oil, lime juice, 1/2 teaspoon salt and several grinds of pepper (around 1/8 teaspoon) in a food processor. Process until very smooth, scraping down the sides a few times if needed. Taste and add additional salt if desired.
   When the water boils, add the pasta and cook until it has nearly reached its desired tenderness. At this point, add the peas and asparagus to the pasta pot. Cook until the asparagus is very green and just tender when pierced with a fork, about 2 minutes. Turn heat off. Before draining, reserve 1 cup of the pasta cooking water.
   Drain pasta/peas/asparagus. Place the spinach in the now empty pasta pot and pour the drained pasta on top. Wait a few minutes to allow the retained heat in the pasta to wilt the spinach. Scrape all of the avocado pesto on top of the pasta and toss everything together with two spoons or a pair of tongs until thoroughly incorporated. If you need, add in the reserved pasta water two tablespoons at a time to help the pesto coat everything (I find I end up using about 1/3 cup of the reserved water).
   Serves 4.


No Comments Yet, Leave Yours!