The Fleeting Bounty of Spring

farm fresh eggs - woohoo!ramps & peas
fiddleheads

a trip to city feed the other day yielded some of the very best of spring: ramps, fiddleheads, and peas (all locally grown). when thinking about how best to work spring into a meal, i kept returning to the idea of pasta primavera. spring doesn’t come from a box, however… i wanted something lighter. i wanted fresh pasta.

had i ever made pasta from scratch? no. did i have a pasta machine? no. L was at a movie with his sister, but i was feeling ambitious; i was in a ‘never say die’ kind of mood. i decided to go for it: fresh pasta for one.

i looked at a few recipes online. they were all pretty basic: around 2 cups of flour, a couple of eggs, a little salt, and a little bit of water. however, most of them called for semolina, which i didn’t have. after watching a poorly produced video about making spinach pasta, i formulated a plan: plain old flour, beautiful eggs that i got at the farmer’s market, salt, and ramps (ground up in the food processor).

ramps
20090511-03511

somewhere in there i realized i really needed to use some grape tomatoes that were on their last legs… they were already starting to get a little wrinkly. i washed them, halved each lengthwise, laid them out on a sheet pan, and sprinkled them with australian lake salt (eek! i’m almost out) and freshly ground pepper. those went in a 200ish degree oven for a while (a couple of hours?) to dry.

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for the dough i approximated the usual recipe that i saw around online, only i skipped the water and mixed in 5 blenderized ramps. as usual when not using a recipe, i had to tweak/correct as i went… kneading was *hard*! i was worried about what i’d gotten myself into, as the dough just seemed too dry and kept tearing when i’d fold it over (guess i should have put the water in at the outset), but i spritzed it with water every so often and eventually it eased up a bit. it definitely took me more than 5 minutes of kneading to get the dough into a semi-smooth ball, but eventually i got there, covered it, and left it to rest for half an hour. when i came back to it, the dough’s texture had changed entirely… much smoother! i was back in the game.

hand rolling20090511-03597

rolling the dough out was really hard as well… it was very elastic, so i’d get it to flatten and expand on one side, and then it would shrink back as i worked the other side. the silver lining here was that i didn’t have to use any flour at all… it didn’t stick to the counter! peel & flip… what a nice surprise. i kept at it for a while until i got tired of rolling – i am very scientific with noodle thickness. i cut the noodles with a knife and put some on a rack to dry, leaving the rest out on the counter. i was pleased by how non-fussy the cut noodles appeared to be in terms of drying… i left them out for about as long as it took me to boil a large pot of water.

20090511-03367

while the noodles dried and the water heated up, i blanched the fiddleheads and threw those in a pan with peas, the oven dried tomatoes, a little chenin blanc that i was drinking during this whole process, salt, pepper, butter, olive oil, and probably something else that’s escaping me. when the noodles were nearly done i threw the pasta and a little of its water in with the veggies, tossed in the little bit of parmesan that i had on hand, and mixed it all together over the heat for a bit longer. voila!

voila

i need to get myself a pasta machine to take some of the work out of rolling that dough, and to get a more consistent noodle. i’d call this a really successful first try, though. ramp fettuccine is delicious!

two last things:
1) wikipedia has just informed me that primavera literally means the season of spring! who knew?! certainly not me.
2) i posted some additional photos on flickr… i’m struggling with the clutter factor here, so i’ve created a set for each post to organize the extras.

______________________________________________
City Feed and Supply
672 Centre St.
Jamaica Plain, MA 02130
617.524.1700
www.cityfeedandsupply.com

Farmer’s Market: Stillman’s Farm
Tuesdays 12-5, Saturdays 12-3
Bank of America parking lot
677 Centre St., rear
Jamaica Plain, MA
www.stillmansfarm.com

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12 thoughts on “The Fleeting Bounty of Spring

  1. Wow! Exquisite again. Jewel-like colours. How wonderful that you can get fiddleheads for your cooking. We had them in mountain style vegetarian food in Japan a few years ago and although of course we have many wild brackens in Australia I’m really not sure which ones are edible – sigh – I’d really love to pickle some for a bento.
    Beautiful dish.

    • they’re only available for a short time in the markets. i’d be afraid to forage for them… the ostrich fern is the only edible variety that i know of, but there are so many ferns out there.

      the closest to japan i’ve been is the tokyo airport; one day i’d love to actually visit!

  2. BTW I think you will love having a pasta machine. It’s a somewhat zen-like process turning the handle and posting through the dough- almost mesmerizing and a lovely finished product. Much more fun than a rolling pin!

  3. Wow. Very impressive!

    I’ve been to City Feed twice now for fiddleheads, but they were sold out both times.

    • logan says they have some today! too bad he didn’t pick any up.

  4. Once again, you confirm that you are pretty much awesome! If it tasted as good as the pictures you are a lucky duck!

    What are ramps? I’ve never heard of them….

    • i think it’s all about not caring if you fail. it’s easier when you’re cooking for one, really, because there’s no pressure. i’m lucky to have a bf who is keen on experimentation, though. he tends to like my food more often than i do.

    • thanks! i actually just bought more today. i can’t get enough of them before the season is over… there’s something so wonderful about truly seasonal ingredients.

      i just tried your idea of a soy sauce/lemon juice/wasabi dressing over avocado, by the way. thanks for the idea! it was delicious.

  5. You need a Kitchen Aid stand mixer…with pasta maker attachment. (And ice cream maker attachment. And juicer attachment. And food mill attachment.)

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