Posts tagged sugar snap peas

Garden Update and a Recipe

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I found this post on my computer just now from about 5 weeks ago, so I’m posting it now.  I apologize for the lateness and promise to try and do better.  Between four trips and getting the garden caught up. I have not been diligent about my postings!

The Sugar Snap peas are ripe and we’ve had our first stir fry of the season.  The first fawn of the year was born in the yard a couple of days ago.  The long cold spring is over and I’m finally finishing up my spring planting and transplanting.  This year I am trying a few grafted tomato plants after hearing a friend rave about them.  I picked tried and true varieties:  Brandywine, Early Girl, Cherokee Purple, Goliath, Big Beef and Delicious.  They were a third the size of the ones I had grown under lights so I found my old “Walls of Water” and used them for the grafted plants.  This worked quite well and they are catching up to the others.

The broccoli raab (true to form) matured quickly, provided us with several meals and is now going to seed, all in less than 8 weeks.  My favorite way to use it is sauteed and used as a pasta sauce with sausage and orecchietti, a dish I learned long ago in Italy.  The customary pasta shape for this dish is the orecchietti (little ears) as the shape cradles the thin sauce so it doesn’t puddle on the plate.  When I made it a couple of days ago I found I had run out of orecchietti and used linguine instead.  To be sure the pasta is flavorful I cook it just short of al dente and added it to the pan with the sausage, raab and sauce (for which I just use a big splash of dry vermouth and a bit of pasta water).  I turned the ingredients over and over until some of the sauce was absorbed and served it with grated Romano cheese.  Delicious!

broccoli raab and linguine

Broccoli Raab with Sausage and Linguini

Broccoli Raab with Sausage and Orecchietti (for 2)

  • 1 pound (or less) loose hot Italian sausage (you can also get the links and remove the casings) If the hot is too hot get the sweet and add red pepper flakes to taste.
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • About 4 cups packed broccoli raab (tender stems, tops and leaves)
  • 2 large cloves garlic chopped (or chop up a garlic scape)
  • About 1/2 cup dry vermouth
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 pound orecchietti (or other pasta, something with a cup to catch the sauce preferred but not required)
  • Grated Romano cheese

Bring pasta water to boil, salt it and blanch the raab leaves in it.  Remove the raab as soon as it turns bright green, drain well and chop it coarsely.  Saute sausage in olive oil, breaking it up as it cooks.  If the sausage throws off a lot of fat, drain it before proceeding to the next step. Add garlic, pepper flakes and chopped raab and saute while the pasta cooks (in the same water you used to blanch the raab), adding more oil if needed.  Add vermouth and about 1/4 C. pasta water and stir, turning the sausage & raab in it until the pasta is done.  Drain the pasta, add it to the pan and continue to turn it gently until the sauce is nearly absorbed, adding salt & pepper to taste.  Grate on Romano cheese generously and mix it in.

Serve with additional Romano.

Added Note:  A reader named Judy asked for information about “Walls of Water.”  I answered in the comments and add a photo below.

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“Walls of Water” around a tomato seedling. In back you can see the kale from last year going to seed. I let it go for the bees.  They love it and there isn’t a lot around for them at this time of year.  The plants between the tomatoes are volunteer potatoes.  I never know where they’ll turn up!

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Garlic Scapes and Pasta Primavera

Pigtail-like Garlic Scapes

Pigtail-like Garlic Scapes

Pasta Primavera

Pasta Primavera

Yesterday I saw that my garlic had started sending up its scapes, those whimsical pigtails that eventually open as the garlic flowers.  These need to be removed if you want to achieve the maximum sized garlic head but don’t throw them on the compost pile.  They have a delicate garlic flavor perfect for stir fries and Pasta Primavera.

Curliques of Flavor, all good to eat.

Curliques of Flavor, all good to eat.

Pasta Primavera is all about seasonality (Primavera=Italian for Spring).  I still have asparagus and my edible podded peas (Sugar Snaps) are just beginning, so with the garlic scapes, I had enough  for the dish.  I like to add sweet red peppers for extra color.  You can make fresh vegetable pasta dishes all summer long.  The vegetables available seem to marry naturally and the combinations are limitless.  For example you might choose yellow squash, zucchini and green beans for July and cauliflower, peppers and cherry tomatoes for August.  I begin with a base of mushrooms and onion which I saute in olive oil while the pasta water is heating.  When the mushrooms and onions are done, I add about 1/4 tsp. of red pepper seeds.  When the pasta water comes to a boil, add the cut up fresh vegetables saving the most delicate for last and scoop them out just as they begin to soften.  Timing depends on the vegetable, the sugar snap peas take only 30 seconds, the asparagus tips about a minute and the garlic scapes, red peppers and asparagus stems maybe 2 minutes.  Green vegetables will turn bright green when they reach the right point.  When they are done, set them aside.  They will continue cooking, so if you left them in the pasta water a little too long, they might be overcooked.  In this case you should put them in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking.  Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook until al dente.  I like to use Capellini (Angel Hair) for this dish.

Vegetables, All Sliced and Ready

Vegetables, All Sliced and Ready

There are several options for sauces, the ingredients for which are added to the cooked mushroom/onion mixture and reduced to a sauce thickness.  Traditional is heavy cream    In midsummer when the tomatoes are burgeoning, a light fresh tomato sauce is nice but for these delicate spring vegetables I like to keep it light using chicken broth, white wine and a spoonful of the boiling pasta water.   Add the chosen sauce ingredients and reduce them while the pasta is cooking.  When the pasta is done, drain it and add it to the sauce mixture, turning to coat well, then add the vegetables.  Let them cook together a minute or two so the pasta takes up some of the sauce.  Fresh herbs sprinkled over the top complete the dish.  Serve with grated Parmesan cheese.  You can add meat if you wish; cubed chicken, ham or prosciutto go well (I used chopped sandwich ham this time as I had no prosciutto).  These are added when you cook the mushrooms.  This dish is quick and easy.  It can be completed in little more than the time it takes to boil the pasta water.

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GARDEN UPDATE

My Second Sowing of Lettuce is Nearly Ready

My Second Sowing of Lettuce is Nearly Ready

Spring is well along now and most everything is planted.  I’m going to delay putting in my eggplants in an attempt to lessen damage from flea beetles and I plan to uproot all the volunteer potatoes and trench them where they can grow out of the way of all the vegetables they are now crowding.

The Sugar Snap Peas are Flowering

The Sugar Snap Peas are Flowering

The sugar snap peas are flowering and it will be about a week before we have our first stir-fry of the season.  My second sowing of lettuce is nearly ready.  This time I planted a speckled Romaine type called Flashy Troutback, a red-tinged loose head type called Merveille de Quatre Saisons and a green Romaine type called Little Gem.  I will begin to harvest the heads of my first sowing.  Up until now I have only taken the outside leaves and left the heads in the ground where they keep producing more leaves.  The onion plants are standing upright and the broccoli have tripled in size since they were transplanted.

The Onion Plants are Upright

The Onion Plants are Upright

The Broccoli Plants Have Tripled in Size

The Broccoli Plants Have Tripled in Size

The parsnip seeds have germinated.  This is something I await anxiously as they take a long time (up to three weeks) and need to be kept moist until they sprout so sprouting is far from a sure thing.  I’ve decided to treat myself to some new tomato cages.  I’ve used the old ones for 35 years and they are no longer serviceable.   I almost put my eye out yesterday with one of the broken pieces of wire.  Even this frugal Yankee can’t have that.

Danger Lurks in the Tomato cages.  I almost put my eye out on the rusty wires.

Danger Lurks in the Tomato cages. I almost put my eye out on the rusty wires.

The Parsnips have Germinated

The Parsnips have Germinated

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