Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Happy Spring! The Growing Season is Here!

Hello All and Happy Spring!

What passed for Winter was pretty surprising wasn't it?  I guess we're all happy that - after things started poking up and sprouting blooms - we didn't get hit by some late year snow.  It was indeed the strangest winter I can remember, but certainly easy on those energy bills!

The last few weeks have been a whirlwind here at Il Moya.  Measuring for a new, gigantic (for us) standing planter -  our third; ordering seeds & transplants; trips to the garden centers for soil, etc. and clearing all of those Christmas tree boughs that we spread throughout the garden have kept us pretty busy. 

There is a lot of start up - as you Gardeners know - to prepping for planting and growing.  This year, for the first time, we went with more seeds than transplants for edibles and herbs.  Because of that, our kitchen has become a "nursery" of sorts - seed trays are spread out all over - catching precious light from our southern facing window.  Two of our tomato seedlings  - Brandywine Pink (an Heirloom) and Sweet Current (teeny, tiny cherry tomates) - are "up" and thriving in their trays.  We have assorted sweet and hot peppers in, jalepenos, and Black Beauty eggplant as well.

Outside, the French Breakfast radishes, Arugula, Kale, Simpson "Envy" Lettuce, and Mustard Green seedlings have all appeared - we've already had to thin the radishes.  The Sorrel is just starting to emerge as of this morning. Yesterday we planted a few spinach plants - we saw them at the garden center and they looked so healthy, we couldn't resist.  We have a lot more in the way of seed planting to do as the weather warms, but this first round of "colder" crops is something we always enjoy. We both love leafy greens.  Not to mention that sitting outside with a cocktail on a Spring evening, picking mature Arugula leaves and wrapping them around little slivers of smoked salmon is an absolutely decadent and delicious way to kick off the season!

Recipe:  Spring Pasta


1 pound of "little" pasta - any small, compact pasta that you have on hand

2 - 3 fresh lemons

A stick of butter

Fresh Italian (Flat Leaf) Parsley

Heavy Cream  (1/4 cup or more)

A hunk of Parmesan Cheese & Salt & Pepper to taste

Dried Pepper Flakes

Boil your pasta in heavily salted water (always, always close to 'sea water') to just al dente - a few minutes short of the package instructions

While the pasta is cooking, in a saute pan, melt the butter, add the zest of one lemon, add the juice of all of the lemons - you want about a heavy 1/2 cup of fresh lemon juice all told (do not use "bottled" lemon juice - don't bother).  Add some freshly group black pepper and bring the mixture to a low simmer.

Drain your pasta (save about a cup of the pasta water in case you want to thin your sauce)

Put your pasta in the saute pan and cook the pasta for a minute or two in the sauce.

Add about 1/4 cup of heavy cream - or less if you want a very light sauce, more for a richer sauce. Stir to incorporate the sauce, cream and pasta.  Add more freshly ground black pepper to taste - lots of pepper really picks this up!

Off the heat, garnish with some fresh chopped parsley and some grated cheese.  Serve immediately with the pepper flakes on the side.

Happy Spring!