Saturday, April 30, 2011

Spring Means Fresh

 It’s finally Spring, and here in DC that means warm weather, lots of sun, cherry blossom trees, and the return of fresh farmers market produce!
Farmers markets can seem overwhelming with their interesting variety of vegetables, but these simple recipes fit well with any fresh vegetable, leave, or herb you can find at the dozens of markets around DC!

Scrambled Eggs Pizza
Pasta with Garlic, Olive Oil, and “insert farm fresh ingredient here”
For the Scrambled Egg Pizza:
I picked up this idea from the food network years ago but I mix it up every time. I like to use a fresh pizza dough, roll it out on a tray and bake it with a bit of olive oil and sea salt at 475* until it is puffed up, but not golden yet. Add shredded Cheddar, Gruyere, Brie, or any cheese you can find that you like with your eggs, and bake the cheese onto the pizza dough for an additional 5 minutes until the cheese is melted and the pizza crust is crisped to your desire.
In an egg pan, sauté your farmers market ingredients with a bit of butter at a medium heat for a few minutes. I’ve used tramps, leeks, spinach, asparagus, a dozen varieties of mushrooms, summer squash…everything works here!
For the scrambled eggs, I like to add a bit of cream and ricotta cheese and cook them while continuously folding them at a very low heat. This cooking method takes longer, but leaves your eggs super light, fluffy, and a nice yellow color. Any fresh herbs you want to add should be tossed in when you add the eggs, cream, and ricotta (you don’t want to burn the herbs or you will loose their flavor.
When the eggs and cheesy pizza dough are ready, add your scrambled eggs on top, and spread thin slices of fresh smoked salmon on top of eggs like a pizza topping… you can garnish with caviar, scallions, capers, a drop of sour cream…some fresh dill)
For the Pasta:
This sauce is super easy! Mince some fresh* garlic and sauté with your best olive oil (the taste of the olive oil will be a main component of your sauce). Chop your mystery farmers market vegetable into small pieces and add it to your sauté pan, cook on a medium low heat until the vegetable is tender. Pay attention to the heat so not to burn your garlic or to over cook your vegetable. When your pasta water is starchy (around 4-5 minutes in), ladle a cup full of starchy pasta water into a cup and add some chicken stock, then pour the cup into the saucepan slowly. Add just enough so that your sauce will coat every piece of pasta, but not be soupy at the bottom. This is pasta asciutta*, meaning with a light but flavorful sauce. Simmer the sauce and toss with your pasta!
The trick to serving great pasta is to be sure not to overcook it, and not to throw it in the boiling water until you are ready to serve it. Pasta really only needs around 6 minutes, give or take depending on the shape, and the best way to get your desired consistency is to keep testing it. Always make sure your pasta water is heavily salted and at a rolling boil before you add the pasta. About 5 minutes in, when you can see the water is a bit starchy, it’s time to start testing your pasta. Because it will continue to cook, I suggest straining your pasta at the point right after the inside crunch is tender, but still needs another 30 - 60 seconds cooking. Strain your pasta as soon as you remove it from the heat, pour on your fresh sauce, and serve immediately!

Simone Meadow

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