I’m back in New York after visiting California for 10 days, five in the Bay Area with friends and five in Los Angeles with family. All of the summer produce was in full swing: stone fruit, cherries, berries, summer squashes, tomatoes…
New York greenmarkets literally just started selling strawberries, and rhubarb and asparagus are still hanging on, even into the month of June (this is rare according to my greenmarket vendor).
While I had a giant list of restaurants to eat at, I found myself cooking and baking quite often during my California visit.
I made a plum galette using this recipe as a guide (I didn’t use almonds to keep things simple). I made Smitten Kitchen’s brown butter salted rice crispy treats. I made the Silver Palate’s zucchini bread. I made lots of smoothies. I made poached eggs and veggie egg scrambles. Simple things, but so nourishing.
I found myself making this throw-together pasta twice, once in the Bay Area and once in Los Angeles. The trick: save about 1/2-3/4 cup of the water that you use to cook the pasta in. Adding back the hot starchy water keeps the veggie-filled pasta creamy and coated.
I made this pasta the first time in Berkeley, with my friends Sara and Nir. We used a mix of chard and kale, onion, ribboned asparagus, basil, and lemon zest. Pasta water, Parmesan, a splash of red wine vinegar, and salt and pepper were added as finishing touches. A great vegetarian meal. To go with the pasta, Sara made us a colorful salad with lemon dressing, and Nir made his cheesy garlic olive oiled bread.
Sara, Nir, and I loved the pasta so much, so I made it again for my parents on my last night in L.A. My mom grilled some sausages and we added them into the pasta at the end. I used zucchini ribbons instead of asparagus. No basil, but some rosemary on the side. And lemon zest and juice this time instead of a splash of vinegar.
Remember: save your cooking water. It makes all the difference.
New York, I’m waiting very patiently for the rest of the summer produce to arrive. Until then, I’m eating as much rhubarb, strawberry, young greens, and asparagus as I can.
Throw Together Late Spring/Early Summer Pasta
makes about 3-4 servings
1/2 pound pasta (if you can find it, use mini penne)
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium zucchini or 1/2 bunch of asparagus
1/2 onion, red or white
1-2 cloves garlic
1 small bunch kale or chard
zest and juice from 1 small lemon
Salt and pepper, to taste
Parmesan cheese, to taste
Grilled sausage (I used a chicken cilantro sausage), optional
Using a vegetable peeler and holding one end of the vegetable, shave the zucchini (or asparagus) into long ribbons. Chop the onion, mince the garlic, and chop the kale and/or chard (you can use the chard stems but not the kale stems).
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Once boiling, add a hefty amount of salt and the pasta. Cook according to the package directions or until al dente. In the last minute of cooking, drop the zucchini or asparagus ribbons into the boiling water. When the pasta is cooked, drain the pasta/vegetable ribbon mixture. *SAVE 1/2-3/4 cup of the water and set aside.*
Heat the grill and grill some sausages. Once grilled, cut them up into bite-size pieces. (alternatively, you could cut the sausages up and saute them in the skillet with the kale, or omit altogether to keep things vegetarian).
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the onion and saute for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for another minute. Add the kale and cook until just wilted. Turn off the heat.
Mix the cooked pasta/ribbons in with the sauteed onions and greens mixture. Pour in the reserved pasta water and toss. Toss in the lemon zest and juice. Mix in the grilled sausages. Add salt and pepper and Parmesan to taste.
You’ll want seconds. Trust me.