Spring Pasta with Zucchini Ribbons

 

“To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance.” ~Oscar Wilde

 

I won’t go into the details of why cooking for yourself is a great way to dive into this so-called romance as Mr. Wilde puts it, but I thought this quote might inspire you as it did me.  I also would like to apologize for not having written any recipes for exactly two months.  When it comes to this blog, consistency is clearly is not my strong suit.

I am going to keep it fairly short today, and just give you the run-down with this pasta, a healthy dish that comes together nicely and showcases the prime vegetables of the season.  While I like cooking year round, cooking in springtime is a special treat because I am finally able to cook with fresh produce that is full of fragrance, flavor and texture.  The silky zucchini complements perfectly the crunch of the asparagus and peas, and fresh basil adds the final touch to remind you that better weather really is on its way!

Of course this springtime bliss is only relevant to those living in seasonal areas in the northern hemisphere, but hopefully you will all enjoy making this pasta no matter where you call home.  As with pretty much any recipe on this blog, feel free to change it up as you see fit: replace the peas with fava beans, use fresh mint or cilantro instead of basil, and you may even want to omit the bacon, in which case you would need to use olive oil to cook the zucchini and asparagus. 

One last note: if you have leftover zucchini and asparagus, why don’t you dice or slice everything and cook it in the next few days in a frittata?

Happy spring to every one, may your next meal be absolutely delicious, wherever and whatever you find yourself eating.  And please give feedback/comments/new recipe ideas!  The more the merrier!

Spring Pasta- Serves 1
 
1 zucchini, ends cut off, peeled
1/4-cup lardons, or two slices bacon, cut into small dice
2 ounces papardelle pasta, or any other pasta you want to use (you’re making this for yourself, so go nuts!)
1/2-cup fresh or frozen peas (if using frozen, make sure to thaw them)
3 stalks asparagus, trimmed, sliced thinly on the diagonal
1 garlic clove, minced
1 lemon
4 basil leaves, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon freshly grated parmesan, or more as desired
good-quality olive oil (optional)
 
1. Bring a small pot of salted water to a boil.
2.  Using your vegetable peeler, cut the zucchini vertically into pasta-like ribbons.

3.  In a small or medium saute pan, cook the lardons or bacon bits over medium heat, until well browned, about 4-5 minutes.  Once cooked through, remove from heat, leaving the fat in the pan.
4.  Once water is boiling, add pasta and peas and cook pasta to package instructions. 
5.  Return the saute pan to heat and cook garlic in the remaining bacon fat until browned, about 30 seconds.  Add the zucchini ribbons and saute until slightly softened, 2 minutes.  Add the asparagus and cook until asparagus pieces are just slightly tender, 2-3 minutes.
6.  Once pasta is ready, drain in a colander along with the peas.  Add pasta, peas, and bacon bits to the skillet containing the asparagus and zucchini, and toss to combine.  Add lemon juice as desired, probably 1-2 tablespoons. Season generously with freshly ground pepper.
7.  Remove from heat and toss in the basil.  Sprinkle with freshly grated parmesan and drizzle with good-quality olive oil if desired.
 
Booooon appetito!

>Butter Lettuce w/ Lardons and Poached Eggs

> I have wanted to try and make this salad for so long, because I love all of the individal ingredients (bacon, butter lettuce, poached eggs, and red & white vinegar) and I knew that their combination would be very satisfying to my tastes. And can I say that not only is this salad very delicious, with a combination of salt and crispy from the lardons and rich and silky from the egg yolk, but it is also one of the easiest things I have made so far. To do everything, from washing the lettuce to preparing the dressing, I needed 30 minutes in the kitchen. It’s so easy, and fills a craving when you want something rich and complex in taste!

So, I’ll keep this post short, and just say that this wonderful salad can be eaten as a light lunch (with some bread, bien sûr!), or as an appetizer for dinner. Although, I guess I shouldn’t put any restrictions on this, because you should really eat this salad whenever you feel like it.

Also, one last note – I know it’s not always easy to get fresh produce, but I find that it can make a huge difference with eggs; ce n’est pas grave, but if you can, please try to get your hands on eggs from a farmer’s market or a local producer – they’ve practically just popped out of the chicken!

To make this salad, you will need a small head of lettuce (I used butter lettuce, however this salad traditionally calls for frisée). Additionally, you’ll need two bacon strips, white wine vinegar, a small shallot, and red wine vinegar.

Firstly, wash up your lettuce and arrange it however you like on a plate, either cut up into smaller pieces or left whole. Chop up the shallot and set it aside. Next cut up your bacon into little lardons (which usually are about 1/4-inch wide and 1/2-inch long), and cook in a skillet on medium heat until golden and crispy, about 5 minutes. Remove them from heat.

Next, fill a small skillet with warm water (you’ll be putting the poached eggs in here to keep them warm while you finish the rest of the recipe). Fill a small saucepan halfway with water, and add 1 1/2 tablespoons white wine vinegar – swish it around with a wooden spoon once or twice to blend, and bring to a simmer. Now, this part can be tricky if you’ve never poached eggs before, but don’t fret because it’s super simple. Crack each egg into a teacup or a small shallow dish. Once the water and vinegar start to simmer, bring each teacup right above the waters surface and gently slip in the eggs. With your wooden spoon, lightly move the eggs back and forth for a couple of seconds, in order to make sure the whites stick to the yolk. Simmer for 2-3 minutes, then place in the skillet of warm water.

Reheat the bacon on medium heat, then add the chopped shallot. Cook for about one minute, then add 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar. Cook for 5 seconds (if you cook longer the vinegar will develop a nasty bitter taste), then pour over your lettuce. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste, then top with the two poached eggs.

Bon appétit mes chéris!!