Veg*n Cooking and Other Random Musings: Local Spring Veggies and Pasta!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Local Spring Veggies and Pasta!

I really love simple and tasty food - that is as local as possible. I love it when ingredients shine on their own, in their own glory. Until a few years ago when I started going to the farmer's market and growing my own veggies, I didn't know what I was missing - the amazing flavors, colors, textures available. Ordinary foods I used to eat without issue such as tomatoes, I know shun in the winter (unless canned from summer of course) as the store bought ones just don't cut it, they taste horrible and their texture is gritty.

Spring at the farmer's market brings out many things tasty and green. I threw this dish together in no time, and the only non-local ingredients are the few seasonings in the dish.

This is my bowl, topped with crushed red pepper. It seems like if I can make something spicy, I will. :-)

The local booty legend (aka revealing my sources):
no asterisk = grocery store
+ = local produce from The Root Cellar
++ = The Peace Nook (will denote whether product is local or just from the Nook)
* = farmer's market
** = CSA
*** = Container or Community Garden
**** = the non-profit buying club, Blue Planet or Purcell Mountain Farms

Local Spring Veggies and Pasta
1 lb. penne pasta, cooked according to package instructions *
1 bunch of asparagus, woody ends removed, cut in half inch pieces *
6 spring onions, minced *
1 cup oyster mushrooms, chopped *
1 tomato, chopped *
6 cups spinach, chopped *
1/2 cup garlic chives, minced *
2-3 tbsp canola oil
splash of balsamic vinegar
pinch of salt
pinch of pepper

Heat oil in a medium skillet.

Add the asparagus and mushrooms and cook for about 5 minutes. Add the onions, tomato, and spinach. Cook for an additional 6-8 minutes, stirring often.

Add the garlic chives, cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently.

Toss veggies with cooked pasta. Season with balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper.

If you are like me, add something spicy on top!

Well, we've got market tomorrow, it is the first week for our CSA and I hope there is a bunch of Dan's amazing asparagus. I swear we didn't get enough of it last year (though I'm not sure what enough would be exactly), it is some of the best, most flavorful asparagus I have ever had. I am also excited to see what other goodies we might score from the market this weekend.

It has been really rainy here, well, for the past few weeks, so getting things into the ground at the community garden has once again been difficult this year. We transplanted a bunch of peppers starts, and starts planned for the community garden that had outgrown their pots. I will be taking them down and sowing some more seed on Sunday. I may end up a mudball as I did last year, but the stuff is ready to go!

In other news, for the last few years we've had a common nighthawk roosting on top of one of the buildings in our neighborhood. It took us four years to identify what the bird who screeched all night and would dive bomb from the sky was. Anyway, once we figured out what kind of bird she was, we began to watch her at dusk when we could. It is really neat to watch them dive bomb for bugs. If they do it close enough to you, you can actually hear a whirring sound go by with them, they go really fast. Once they had migrated for the winter, we weren't sure if they would come back to the same spot to roost. We were happy to hear that familiar screech about two days ago and sure enough, there one was, soaring in the sky, screeching her rather unpleasant screech (you get used to it) and dive bombing for the year's first bugs. Nature is pretty cool, even in the city, if you just stop to pay attention. :-)

Well, I'll be back sometime this weekend for the weekly local booty update and our first CSA share!

I hope everyone has a good weekend and to those who go to market over the weekend, happy "hunting".

'Til next time.


DP Nguyen said...

That pasta looks so delicious and healthy. I'll have to try it out sometime!

livinginalocalzone said...

My CSA doesn't start until June I think, so lucky you to have yours start soon! I'm planning to go to the farmers market today though so that might give me a small taste. You said it so well about finding out what was missing once you started to eat the local veg. The taste difference alone, its like night and day.
The bird identification, good for you for getting the name. I've been hunting for the name of this brown bird with white stripes on the wingtips for the past year or so - it lives in a tree just outside my kitchen/porch and its been a nagging mystery for me! How did you track it down?

Lizzy said...

I'm craving a simple pasta veggie dish now, especially sprinkled with chili, yummmm!!!

Catherine said...

Yum, asparagus! I hope to find some at my farmer's market this morning!! (Fingers crossed for me!!?!!)

Courtney said...

That pasta looks great--all those local veggies are such a treat!

And "enough" asparagus?! No such thing! I could eat it forever and ever in massive quantities :o)

I hope you find great things at the market! I am off to our farmers this weekend too...


The Veggie Queen said...

This looks great, and just like something that I'd make. Fresh, local, in-season vegetables make for delicious eating.

I'm with you in the spicy department. Have you ever made hot sauce? When the chilies are going, it's great to do -- because you then have it all year.

SusanB said...

We have a new bird in our backyard, one neither of us had seen before, the rose breasted grosbeak, black and white with a red bib. Really striking, and not all that common around here, though not out of place.

Jennifer (of Veg*n Cooking) said...

DP Nguyen - Thank you. I think it was pretty healthy now that you mention it. I love things that end up being accidently healthy. This was really easy to make, I hope you like it if you try it.

Living in a Local Zone - Ours ended up being postponed until this weekend due to all the rain we had last week. It is keeping the radishes from being ready. We've had some dryness and warmth this week so I think things are looking good for next weekend.

Oh I know. I truly never knew how good vegetables tasted. How good a local juicy peach was. It is amazing how much flavor and wonderful texture they have and you can make some wonderful, simple, delicious meals that showcase that.

What time of day is the bird active? Have you noticed it having a distinct call? Does it have a long beak, legs, etc?

Well, we got a birds of Missouri field guide because I love all the birds and wanted to be able to identify them. As we were looking through the book we noticed a picture of a bird that had very similar markings to the ones we saw in the neighborhood. The description of the bird sounded very similar as well, so I googled "common nighthawk" and was able to get a sound clip of their screech. It was undeniable after that that nighthawks were what we had.

Lizzy - There could have been more chili but I ran out of crushed red pepper flakes. And hey, I'm lazy, I am all for simple and tasty.

Catherine - I hope you were able to find some asparagus! It is one of the best things about spring!

Courtney - Oh I know, I relish asparagus season while it is around.

Oh I know, I swear we could just eat bunch after bunch of asparagus in so many different ways.

I hope you were able to find some good grub at your market.

Veggie Queen - I couldn't agree more. I am hoping to be able to put up more this season so as to extend these simple and healthy treats into winter. Having the AeroGarden also means that herbs and small tomatoes/peppers won't be a long shot this winter either.

Oh yes, I love making hot sauce - the hotter the better. We have about 20 pepper plants so far of different varieties on the porch and I see us adding about a dozen more or so before we have all the ones we want.

Susan B - I bet that was a neat thing to see. The bird sounds gorgeous. I remember when we saw a Red Winged Black Bird around here for the first time. They are a treat to see around here (and you only really see them in the swampy type areas), but in some places they are so abundant as to be pests. They drained the little swamp ecosystem that housed all sorts of neat birds. It is a shame, now all I have seen are aggressive geese.