Monday, 14 June 2010

Seasonal produce

After all the fuss I made about the regional produce I bought in Waitrose last week, I thought it was probably time that I wrote a little more about it.  In the end, once I'd sampled some of the vegetables raw, I realised that they were far to fresh to be cooked to death in some complicated dish.  When vegetables (technically, tomatoes are a fruit of course...) are this fresh, I think it's almost a crime to cook them beyond the bare minimum.  The spinach and the asparagus in particular seem to really benefit from actually being in season at the moment, you can really taste it.  So, one super simple dish that I like to do when I get home from work and am hungry and in need of something fairly quick is to just basically cook some pasta and add some olive oil, freshly ground black pepper, course sea salt and the freshest vegetables available.  This could be done with almost any vegetables really, but in this case I used asparagus, mushrooms and spinach.  This dish is perfect when the vegetables are so fresh because they are not really cooked at all, just warmed through.  The end result should look something like this:

 This really is the simplest thing to prepare.  Put the pasta into little salted, rapidly boiling water.  While it's cooking, wash the vegetables.  Slice the mushrooms and the asparagus.  When the pasta is nearly done, add the slices asparagus for no more than three minutes, it takes a bit of practice to get the timing for the pasta right, but it's worth persevering.  A time saving trick I like to use is to wash the spinach leaves in a colander under the cold tap.  Once the pasta is cooked, drain the pasta through the same colander, leaving the spinach in.  This way, the pasta gets drained and the spinach gets steamed by the hot water!  Nice.  Tip the pasta and the spinach back into the saucepan, add olive oil, freshly ground black pepper and course sea salt.  Stir it around and add the mushrooms.  That's it!

 We've been having a lot of warm and wet weather just recently, which of course has done wonders for my attempts to grow my own food:

 As you can see, the tomatoes are coming on well, the mint is progressing but is still too small to use really.  Unfortunately, the sweet peppers are not doing much and appear to have been munched by snails.  However, the alpine strawberries are doing well, though I am surprised that they haven't produced any flowers yet.

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