Thursday, September 11, 2008

farmer's market pasta

This week, I was inspired by the plethora of vegetables in my fridge to create a version of a pasta primavera. In this case, I think primavera is a bit of a misnomer, given that the current weather is definitely not spring-like where I am. In fact, the last few days have alternated between blazing summer heat and downright fallish rains. I guess that's September for you.

But back to the vegetables. Our local grocery store (the one within walking distance of our house) shut down unexpectedly while we were on vacation. We would shop their regularly for fruits, vegetables, dairy and meat, so the closure left a huge void in our shopping patterns. For almost two weeks we scrambled. We try to drive as little as possible, so we had to really think about our shopping trips and plan ahead more than ever.

One of the solutions we found was to sign up for delivery of farm-fresh vegetables and selected fruits to our home (it's like CSA, but we can use the website to customize our delivery and it runs year round). We got our first delivery last week. Zucchini, tomatoes, beets, potatoes, leeks, wild blueberries, carrots, peaches and peppers were just a few of the things included in our box.

Two days to go before our next delivery though, I still had a fridge full of vegetables. I had to act fast. So I pulled out a recipe for pasta primavera from one of my usual sources and used it as a guideline for prepping the veggies for our dinner.

I chose my vegetables carefully to try and obtain a good balance of different colours. I used a combination of steaming and sautéing to make the vegetables as tender as possible. If we'd had a good quality parmesan, I would have thrown that in, but as it turned out, all we had was the shakeable stuff.

The end result: a pasta that everyone enjoyed, especially my little Bean. It's not often that he gobbles up his dinner and asks for seconds--praise from my toughest critic.

After a long absence, I am submitting this dish to Presto Pasta Nights, started by Ruth of Once Upon a Feast. She's hosting this week too.

If I were between the ages of 4 and 13, this would also be a good dish to submit to, an initiative of the Canadian government to make fruits and vegetables fun for kids.

pasta agricola
I'm calling this dish pasta agricola, because according to google, agricola is one of the Italian words for farm*. I like it because it gives a nod to the primavera source, but also to the source of the vegetables - which are all farms that are local to my area (within 50 for some items, and a little higher for others (like the peaches). In reality all I did was cook up the vegetables I had on hand and add them to pasta. You could really use just about any vegetable.

*If someone who speaks Italian wants to confirm this or shoot it down in the comments, go ahead!

1 zucchini, chopped into small cubes
3 carrots, sliced thinly (1/2 cm or so) and then chopped in half
1 red pepper, chopped
1-2 tbsp olive oil
3/4 cup peas - frozen or fresh
225 g of wholewheat rotini (1/2 of a 16 oz bag)
1/2 cup grated parmesan

If you use the stovetop method of steaming vegetables, fill two pots out for boiling water. If you microwave-stean, I can't help you with directions. I use a metal steamer in my pot with about an inch and a bit of water. The pasta pot should have enough water to cover all your pasta plus about half an inch to an inch more. The water should be boiling for both the pasta and the vegetables before you put them in.

Cook your pasta according to instructions (usually 8-10 minutes in rapidly boiling water for al dente consistency). At about the 6 minute mark, add in the frozen peas.

Steam the carrots and the zucchini until tender-soft and set aside (about 5-8 minutes). Sauté the red pepper in a pan with the olive oil until it is tender (4-5 minutes)

Drain everything and toss in one large bowl. Mix in an additional 1-2 tbsp of olive oil and the parmesan cheese.

Serves 4.

Other possible substitutions:
  • green beans
  • corn instead of peas
  • cherry tomatoes (it is tomato season after all, and I have my eye on a few recipes for slow roasted tomatoes here and here)
  • sweet potatoes/orange yams

Do you have any suggestions?


Wary Cat said...

No suggestions but I love your blog! I'm no cook but eating good food is one of my favorite pastimes. Looking forward to trying some of your recipes. :-)

Ruth Daniels said...

The pasta looks wonderful and thanks for sharing with Presto Pasta Nights.

If your little bean is like my 20 month old grandson, (or his mummy and aunt when they were little) fingers are the best way to eat. So how about little broccoli "trees".

Kerry said...

Hi! I'm hosting a "Farmer's Market Report" Mr Linky for food reports, recipes, stories and photos all inspired by farmer's markets.

Maybe you'd like to submit this post? Come on by and check it out! :