Welcome to the launch of 101-Mile Kitchen. This is a new beginning for me, as I formerly blogged as Sticks Forks Fingers beginning in 2009. Sticks Forks Fingers journaled my early experiences as a country dweller, my love for great food and great wine, my love of Oregon and its thriving food culture, and stories of falling in love with the man who became my husband.
101-Mile Kitchen will follow that thread, including recipes developed to encourage readers to cultivate their cooking intuition and confidence. Most recipes you see here will include “Make It Your Own” ideas that will let you play, learn, and grow.
On these pages you will also meet some of my heroes– the growers and makers who keep our community fed and happy. It is my hope that in bringing them to you, you will be encouraged to seek out the special people who dedicate their lives to growing and making food, wine, beer, and the like in your area, no matter where you live.
And, of course, you’ll read stories about being in love, which come to learn is a whole different thing than falling in love. Cooking and loving, to me, are completely intertwined and provide magical opportunities to reflect on one another.
The premiere recipe for 101-Mile Kitchen is a Modern Pasta Primavera. Primavera, the Italian word for springtime, signals the new beginning cycle of growth we can count on year after year, no matter what else is going on in the world. The daffodils poke up their perky heads no matter what. If that isn’t hopeful, I don’t know what is.
Tender fresh pasta squares make a bed for the sprightly vegetables, and the whole thing is bathed in a sauce of pancetta, butter, shallot, white wine, and bright green herbs. (Be sure to check the recipe card for gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegetarian options.) Poached or softly boiled “jammy” eggs contribute to the sauce and connect even further to the springtime feel of the dish. It truly is one of the most delicious things I’ve ever eaten.
Modern Pasta Primavera
- 6 eggs
- 1 bunch asparagus, stems peeled if thick
- 4 small artichokes, leaves and choke removed to expose heart, and cut into eighths or 1 12-14 ounce can or jar of artichoke hearts
- 1 pound fava beans, removed from their pods (optional)
- 12 ounces fresh or frozen peas
- 1 head fennel, sliced into fans through the root end
- 12 – 16 ounces fresh egg pasta sheets, or other pasta of your choice
- salt for pasta water and to taste
- 6 Tbsp unsalted butter or ghee
- 4 ounces pancetta, finely diced
- 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 1 large shallot, finely minced
- ½ cup dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc
- 1 bunch fresh chives
- 1 bunch fresh dill
- salt and pepper to taste
Prepare the Eggs
- Cover the eggs with water in a saucepan, and bring to a boil. For perfect jammy eggs, allow to boil for 7 minutes. While they are cooking prepare a bowl with ice water. After the eggs boil for 6 ½ minutes, remove them from the boiling water into the ice bath. Leave them in the ice bath for 10 minutes. Remove them from the water, peel them, slice them in half, and them set aside.
Get the Vegetables Ready
- Prepare all the vegetables: Peel the asparagus stems with a peeler if they are the chubby variety, and trim or snap off the woody ends. Pull off the leaves from the artichokes, scrape out the fuzzy chokes with a spoon, and trim the stem with a peeler. Remove the fava beans from their pods. Slice the fennel bulb into ½ inch fans down through the stem end. The peas will be added to the sauce later.
- Place a large pot of well-salted water on to boil. When it comes to a boil drop in the asparagus and let cook until bright green and just starting to be tender, about 4-5 minutes; remove an set aside. Drop in the shelled fava beans and cook 6 minutes until tender; remove and set aside. When the fava beans are cool enough to handle, slip them out of their waxy skin. Drop in the artichoke heart wedges (if using fresh artichokes) and cook until tender, about 6 minutes; remove and set aside. Keep the water at a low boil.
Make the Sauce
- Melt the butter into a 10" skillet or saucier over medium heat. When it begins to bubble, add the pancetta and cook, stirring frequently, until the pancetta has rendered some of its fat and is beginning to lightly brown.
- Add the sliced fennel to the skillet, and cook until just translucent, stirring often, about 5-6 minutes.
- Add the sliced garlic and minced shallot to the skillet, stirring often, until they are just beginning to become translucent, about 3 more minutes.
- Add the white wine and about a teaspoon of salt and ground pepper (to taste) to the sauce, stirring until the wine has reduced about half. (The fennel will absorb some of it.)
- Add the fresh or frozen peas to the sauce, cooking for one minute. Stir the finely minced chives and dill into the sauce, reserving a tablespoon of each for garnish. Turn the heat to low while you cook the pasta.
- Bring the pot of water back to a full boil. Cut the pasta sheets into 3" squares, drop them into the boiling water, and cook according to package directions. (Most fresh sliced garlic and minced shallot to the skillet, pasta only takes 90 seconds to cook.) Drain pasta and set aside.
Assembling the Dish
- On a pretty platter, lay out the cooked pasta squares. Arrange the asparagus, artichoke hearts, fava beans, peas, and fennel over the pasta. Spoon the sauce over the vegetables and pasta. Arrange the halved eggs over the top, and garnish with the remaining fresh herbs.