Sunday, June 22

Fresh summer pasta

On Saturday mornings, Ian and I like to go to the Saskatoon Farmer's Market. We have supported it since we arrived in Saskatoon. Then, it was located in a street in front of City Hall, but now it has its own building and market square on the riverfront.


As the general population becomes more conscious about being 'green' and eating local, the market has become busier and busier. It makes sense: to really know what you're buying, it helps to buy from the producer. I particularly like our city's market because it has a strict 'sell your own stuff' policy:
Members must make, bake or grow whatever they are selling. It is not permitted to buy and re-sell at the market. Each individual...must be personally present to operate their stall.
At the Saskatoon Farmer's Market, I can talk to Clifford, the flour guy, about his ultra-clean grains and to Wally, the urban gardener, about his micro-greens. I'm able to ask re-planting advice for the herbs I bought from Helga and am instructed on the benefits of local honey to help curb allergies from the Bee Lady.

The first Saturday of summer (yesterday) started off with a trip to the market and a decision to make 'green' pasta. That is, pasta made with green, local, seasonal, ingredients.

It mostly worked: the kale, zucchini and lemon were from Dad's, and the salt, pepper, onion, cheese and oil were imported. But the rest were all bought from the producers at the market.

Fresh Summer Pasta
- 3 servings fresh linguine
- small bag micro-arugula
- 4 stalks green garlic, minced
- 7 stalks asparagus, chopped into inch-long pieces
- 2 sprigs thyme
- 1 zucchini, sliced
- 2 leaves kale
- half an onion, chopped roughly
- zest and juice from half a lemon
- parmesan cheese to taste
- salt and pepper to taste
- olive oil to taste

1. Boil water for the pasta. Generously salt the water. Meanwhile, prepare all the vegetables.

2. Heat as large an amount of olive oil as you like in a large pan (2-3 tbsp) on med-high heat. Saute the onion and garlic, seasoned with salt and pepper, until translucent. Add zucchini and cook long enough so it gains some colour.

3. Meanwhile, remove the kale from the stock and roughly chop into small-ish pieces. Add asparagus, kale and thyme leaves to the pan.

4. Drain pasta in a colander when ready and drizzle with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and grated parmesan.

5. Combine pasta with sauteed vegetables, lemon juice and zest and arugula. The arugula will wilt from the residual heat of the pasta and pan. If you like, add more oil and parmesan for a creamier texture.

Serves 3 very hungry people as a main course, or 5 as a side dish.


Saturday, June 21

Fiddleheads


February 20.  The date of my last post here.  

It's been a while friends.  This past semester has been difficult with two new preps, a few behaviourally-challenged students, and unfortunately, many nights of eating out or ordering in.  But exam week is over now, and in one short week - SUMMER! The time of lazying around, planting herbs, experimenting with our new-to-us-but-used barbecue and mid-morning yoga classes.  I can't wait.  Of course, summer also comes with new blog-updating-resolutions.  
Having a little more time this past week allowed me to pick up some locally-grown and handpicked fiddleheads.  These are the curled fronds of a young fern plant.  If you've ever seen them growing, they start off looking like a violin scroll, then unfurl into a fern plant.  I tried them for the first time one year ago in New Brunswick - actually, I tasted them off a plate of one of my fellow-conference goers.  Interesting texture: crisp on the outside with a soft middle.
Even though I had time to pick these up at a specialty store, apparently I didn't have time to research their proper and safe preparation.  Don't worry, we were all fine, no one got sick.  But as I was checking out the details for this post, I found out my method of cooking was not the most safe - oops!  I've modified the recipe to include what I would do next time:
Sauteed Fiddleheads
- 1 bag fiddleheads - I had enough to serve 3 as a side dish
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp butter (or more!)
- pinch salt
- few cranks fresh ground pepper
1.  Boil some water in a medium saucepan.  Meanwhile, clean the fiddleheads, cutting off any black/brown parts, and washing the fronds of dirt.
2.  Blanch (that means throw into the boiling water) the fiddleheads in the water for 7-10 minutes (this is the part I didn't do!) until crisp but not soggy.  Shock them by placing in a bowl of ice water.  Insert a sieve first for easy retrieval.
3.  Melt butter in saute pan on medium heat and cook garlic for 1 min or until fragrant but not burnt.  Meanwhile, pat dry the fiddleheads with paper towel or clean dish towel.  Add the dry fiddleheads, salt and pepper to the butter and saute until heated through, about 2-3 minutes.
I served these with trout and mashed potatoes adorned with chives from my garden.  Yum!