Today, 1 October, is World Vegetarian Day and I thought I would do something delicious to inspire you to have a plate full of freshness and goodness. I recently visited my mom who is an avid gardener and she was very proud of her success with her peas this past winter. They were so prolific the past season there were plenty of pods still on the plants and I decided to grab a basket and pick a few. Back home after some hard work getting them out of the pods (see the photo, that heap of pods yield that small bowl of peas, but it was worthwhile!) I decided to do lovely green veggie pasta with them with a little bite to it. I have added the flowers of last season purple basil and the tender leaves of my new season basil plants. My spinach in my garden was also ready to be plucked and made a wonderful addition to this pasta.
Just to side track a bit, while standing in my kitchen removing the peas from the pods, looking many times out of my kitchen window to relief the monotony of this job at hand, I noticed that some pods were filled with up to 7 peas and others would have one large pea and a few small ones. Usually I use frozen peas and they are all exactly the same size and I realised how disconnected we are from our food, Mother Nature is irregular, but we try to force her into being something she isn’t by presenting all her efforts as being perfect. This irregular sizes of the peas later looked so attractive on the plate and add to the beauty of the food on the plate. And then there was the taste, wow, soft and sweet, no unexpected hard peas or mushy ones as you would find in the frozen product sometimes.
Anyway, I am getting distracted, here is my Green Veggie Pasta. I have made my own tagliatelle and my recipe for pasta is for every 100g of flour use one jumbo egg and a tablespoon of water. If you don’t want to make your own, buy a good dried one or many super markets have freshly made pasta as well. This recipe (actually it is just an assembly of ingredients with some cooking here and there) is enough for 4-6 people.
- 800g fresh pasta
- 200g fresh peas, blanched and refreshed in cold water
- 200g fresh spinach leaves, wilted and chopped
- Flowers of basil
- Tender leaves of young basil
- A good bunch of chives
- 120g toasted cashew nuts
- 6 fresh chilies, chopped
- 100g Cremè Fraîche
- Olive oil for drizzle
- Zest of 2 lemons
- 2 Garlic cloves, mashed
- Black pepper to taste
- Asiago Mezzano
- Prepare everything in advance, remember the sauce (in this case ingredients) can wait for the pasta, but the pasta can’t wait for the sauce. Chop your chives & chillies, crush your garlic, grate your zest, wilt your spinach and blanch your peas for 2 minutes in boiling water and then refresh in ice water and toast the cashews while doing all of the above.
- Now is the time to go and pick those basil leaves and flowers and wash them and keep in a bowl of water.
- Once you have done all your prep, bring a large pot of water with two teaspoons of salt to the boil and cook your pasta the way you prefer it. Freshly made pasta requires no more than about two minutes in the water.
- Once the pasta is cooked, drain most of the water, but keep a little to keep the pasta warm and help you to get a really creamy pasta. Drizzle with a little olive oil, add the cremè fraîche, black pepper to taste, garlic, chives, chilies, peas and spinach and mix well.
- Heap some of the pasta onto warm plates and dress with more olive oil, the cashews, some lemon zest, a few basil flowers and leaves and Asiago shavings. I served it with a fruity Spier Sauvignon Blanc.
PS.: I used Asiago, because I got it from my supplier as a gift and I must say I love it much more than parmesan!