Saturday, May 28, 2016

Early Summer Farmers Markets Rock!

Tonight's meal features four items I found when I visited the farmers market Thursday. Farmers markets are the ultimate "support your local merchants" opportunity. The big conglomerates at the farmers markets are family operations or communes or monks. Hardly the types to set up superpacs.

One item I found was a cheese smith who featured goat milk chevre. It had just the right tang to it. Even though I felt the price high, I bought a small portion.

Another, and even more elusive find was fresh green peas. Frozen peas are a great product - arguably the best frozen vegetable that exists. Having said that, fresh peas have a grassy quality the frozen never convey.

One vendor had Spring onions with bulbs about 1 inch in diameter and beautiful thick green stalks.

Last of all, I found some end of the season asparagus. You could tell the vendor was clearing the beds; the stalks were decidedly non-uniform in size.

For tonight, the asparagus will be the salad. I blanched it Thursday night and chilled it. I will dress it with a Spring onion and cherry tomato balsamic dressing.

The main course will feature the peas and the chevre, plus some of the excellent slab bacon we order from Nueskes. I guess we should call it Bacon and Pea Penne with Chevre.


1 pound dry penne pasta
1 quart fresh green peas
1/2 cup of 1/4 inch bacon strips cut from slab bacon (5 slices of thick bacon cut in 1/4 inch strips)
1/4 cup chevre cheese
1/2 cup reserved pasta water
1 large clove garlic
fresh grated parmesan or romano cheese
Extra Virgin Olive Oil


Blanch the peas in heavily salted boiling water until the flavor just begins to change. Do not over cook. Drain and cool the peas with cool water.

Start 6 cups of well salted water over high heat. Drop the clove of garlic in the water. Bring the water to a roiling boil. If ready ahead of time, turn it off to wait on the best time.

Add a tablespoon of of the olive oil to a cold skillet and add the bacon. Set the heat to medium low and slowly cook the bacon until crispy but not dark brown.

Remove the bacon lardons and set aside. Bring the water back to a boil and add the penne.

Add the peas to the hot bacon/olive oil and saute as you cook the pasta. Do not cook the peas to the gray stage.

When the pasta is very al dente, reserve 1 cup of the liquid and drain the pasta.

Add the chevre, peas, and bacon to the pasta and mix. Add the pasta water gradually to melt the cheese and finish cooking the pasta.

Garnish with freshly grated parmesan.

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