Garden-Grown Green Peas, Crisp Bacon & Parmesan Pasta for a Late Spring Dinner

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I have been traveling (check out my Instagram for photos on where) for a couple of weeks and away from my kitchen…lots of eating, but no cooking. Many recipe ideas are crammed into my brain from the trip and after some experimentation I hope to share some of those with you in later posts…a similar but not-creamed spinach dish topped with goat cheese that was sublime….a light-as-air three-layered dessert using sponge cake, whipped cream and phyllo dough…gnocchi-like noodles with a simple beef stew…chard chopped and sautéed in olive oil & garlic….oh my!

But for today…..peas and pasta.

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A few weeks ago I picked my solo crop of green peas from my little garden and this is the easy dish I made, “Garden-Grown Green Peas, Crisp Bacon & Parmesan Tossed with Pasta”, a Carbonara riff.

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 A cool, sunny spring with just the right amount of rain gave my pea plants an extra boost and within a month or so I had vines laden with plump green peas! I was pretty thrilled as fresh peas have always been a favorite of mine.

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The hot pasta was tossed in a quick sauce of chicken stock with a splash of cream, sea salt & black pepper for a leaner version of a classic Carbonara-style dish.  I quickly added the steamed green peas, crispy lean bacon & a generous amount of shredded parmesan cheese. Bon Apetit!

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Garden-Grown Green Peas, Crisp Bacon & Parmesan Cheese Pasta

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:

  • 1 lb fettucine or spaghetti noodles (regular or gluten-free) cooked, saving 1 cup of hot pasta water
  • 1 cup chicken stock, low-fat
  • 1/4 cup cream
  • 1 cup fresh green peas (or frozen) quickly steamed in microwave
  • 8 slices crisp bacon
  • 1 cup shredded good quality Parmesan cheese
  • sea salt & freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

  1. In a deep stock pot over low heat toss cooked pasta, pasta water, chicken stock, cream and salt & black pepper until noodles are hot and coated with sauce.
  2. Portion into 4 bowls and top each serving with peas, bacon and a generous portion of cheese. Top with additional black pepper. Serve immediately.

This dish is fresh, quick and very good for a spring dinner after a long day at work served with a crisp, cold, dry white wine.

teresablackburnfoodstyling.com      www.foodonfifth.com

“September Tomatoes, Bacon & Spinach Pie with Thyme-Pepper Crust”

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The September tomatoes…the ripe red ones that hang on vines starting to droop, vines heavy with green tomatoes that will never see red…these ripe homegrowns are the sweetest of the season I think. They are summer’s last gift before it is all a memory.

wee tomato bird

What to do with the last few tomatoes just picked? A BLT…a jar of tomato sauce…a pie? Yes. I love to make pies.  A deep savory pie it will be.

A crust using fresh lemon thyme from my garden along with some freshly ground black peppercorns is where I will start.

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I am a fan of the springform pan for tarts & pies as well as for cake. A straight sided savory pie is just so beautiful.

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Thick sliced homegrown tomatoes salted and draining on paper towels before adding to the pie helps pull out some of the water before using. I do not want this pie to be too watery.

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The spinach & ricotta filling  is creamy enough to hold up the next layers.

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Filling topped with thick sliced toms and crispy, thick sliced bacon torn into pieces.

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Creamy spinach filling, salty-sweet September tomatoes & crispy bacon. Let’s eat! DSC_1955

September Tomatoes, Bacon & Spinach Pie

  • Servings: 6-8
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Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 cups unbleached flour with a pinch of salt added
  • 1 stick cold butter cut into small pieces
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black peppercorns
  • a few tablespoons cold water
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 3 med homegrown tomatoes sliced thickly/or 1 large tomato & some cherry toms
  • 1 cup whole fat ricotta
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup fresh spinach steamed, drained & chopped
  • 4 slices thick bacon, cooked crispy & broken into pieces
  • sea salt & freshly ground black peppercorns

Directions:

  1. For crust put the flour, pinch of salt, thyme leaves & pepper in a food processor & pulse a few times. Add cold butter pieces, pulse a few more times until incorporated.
  2. With machine running drizzle in ice-cold water until a dough ball forms. Flatten dough into a disk, wrap in plastic and chill for 30 minutes before rolling out.
  3. In the meantime, place thickly sliced tomatoes on paper towels & sprinkle with some sea or kosher salt. Let sit for 20 minutes. This will pull some of the moisture out of the tomatoes. Right before adding to the pie pat dry again with dry paper towels.
  4. Preheat oven to 350. Roll chilled dough out on a floured board into a circle large enough to fit into & half-way up the sides of  a 9″ springform  pan.
  5. Spray pan bottom & sides with cooking spray. Fit dough into the pan bottom & half way up sides. Crimp and fold to make an even top edge. Set aside.
  6. In a mixing bowl whisk together the ricotta and eggs, 1/2 tsp each salt & pepper,  until fluffy. Stir in drained & chopped spinach. Mix well.
  7. Sprinkle the crumbled feta over the bottom of the dough. Top with the ricotta-spinach mixture. Add tomato slices. Scatter the crispy bacon pieces over all.
  8.  Bake for 35-45 minutes or until puffy & golden brown and center is set. Cover with a sheet of foil if the top starts getting too brown.  Let rest for 20 min. before cutting.

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“Peas in a Pod Salad Fit for a Princess”

Nashville has hot, muggy Springs. Green Peas need cool, crisp weather. So, last week I was very thrilled to find one lone basket with green peas in their pods from a local farm…one basket at the downtown Nashville Farmer’s Market with these fresh, fat little pods of pleasure.

Shelling peas is a single-minded, meditative and full-of-memories activity. Back porches on early summer mornings, my Grandmother sitting quietly shelling peas and beans for lunch. She taught me how to pick the plumpest peas, how to string beans, how to push them gently out of their shells with my thumb. Last week I shelled & mused, pea-by-pea.

“Peas-in-a-Pod Salad on a Plate”

1. Shell peas until you have 2 cups. Rinse & drain. Place in a pot just barely covering peas with water. Add a pinch of sea salt &  1 tbsp of butter. Bring to a boil. Turn down to simmer for about 6-8 minutes.

2. Pour peas in a colander and rinse with cool water.

3.  In a small bowl whisk together olive oil, a fruity flavored vinegar such as peach, apple or balsamic, a bit of lemon juice, sea salt & freshly ground black pepper.

4. Rinse & pat dry tender, crisp lettuce leaves.

5. Cook a few slices of thick bacon until crispy. Remove to drain. Cut a few slices of crusty bread into cubes for croutons. Add to skillet with bacon drippings. Sprinkle bread cubes with a light drizzle of olive oil. Toast bread in skillet over medium high heat until crispy. Remove & set aside to cool slightly.

6. To assemble salad, divide salad greens evenly between plates. Top with peas, bacon cut into pieces, generous grating of fresh Parmesan cheese, toasty croutons & a drizzle of dressing.

 How do you like your peas? When you read “The Princess and the Pea” did you feel the Princess was laying it on a bit thick?  Have you ever taken the time to sit and shell peas? Did you enjoy it? What are your favorite peas?

Today is the Transit of Venus…a once in a lifetime event..unless you live a really, really long time..which I hope you do….so enjoy and eat your peas.

Cook, Eat, Share.

“Bacon-Tomato-Polenta Breakfast Stack”

   “Breakfast Stack” Sunday morning, 6 am….hungry….a fresh & varied selection of homegrown heirloom tomatoes sitting on my kitchen counter…some thick sliced bacon in the fridge..a BLT? No bread. Hmmmmm.

I do find, along with the bacon, some fresh mozzarella, some leeks & fresh dill…still…no bread. Polenta? Yes, I have polenta and can make some quick polenta skillet cakes…eggs? Yes, I have eggs from the West Nashville Farmer’s Market.

To Make the Polenta Skillet Cakes you will need:

1 cup polenta, 1.5 cups water, shredded Gruyère cheese (or whatever cheese you have), a hunk of cream cheese would be nice, 1/2 cup thinly sliced leeks, some fresh dill, butter, salt & pepper to taste.

1. Add the water to a pan & bring to a boil. While whisking, pour in the polenta. Turn heat to medium & continue to whisk & cook until polenta mixture begins to thicken which will take a few minutes.

2. Add the remaining ingredients whisking to blend. Remove from heat.

3. Let polenta mixture sit for about 15 minutes to cool somewhat while you prepare the remaining ingredients.

4. To make skillet cakes heat a non-stick or well-seasoned iron skillet over medium-hi heat. Add a dollop of butter. (We are not counting calories on a Sunday morning!)

5. Spoon large dollops of the polenta mixture into hot skillet cooking until a bit crusty and brown on both sides. Note: these skillet cakes will be soft, messy but that is okay. Just work the hot polenta dollops into “cakes” using your spatula. When crispy on the outside remove to a sheet pan and place in warm oven until all skillet cakes are done.

“Crispy Polenta Skillet Cakes”

6. Cook some bacon until crispy. (Our dog, Ella, was at this point doing a kitchen dance hoping to get a scrap!)

7. Choose some ready-to-eat homegrown tomatoes to slice.

“Cherokee Purple, Green Zebra, Wild Cherry, Mortgage Lifter & Yellow Pear Tomatoes”

8. To Serve: Place one of the Polenta Skillet Cakes on each plate. Top with a thin slice of Mozzarella. Add a slice of tomato & then one slice of crispy bacon cut into two pieces. Repeat layers ending with some tomato slices, a dusting of sea salt & cracked black pepper. Eat with a knife & fork. It’s okay to let the stack slide over to eat!

Alternative: Fry up an egg. Slice an avocado. Add  these to the top of stack along with a few tomatoes.


                                                                   “Homegrown tomatoes homegrown tomatoes… what’d life be without homegrown tomatoes….                                                                                                                                                                     Only two things that money can’t buy…That’s love & homegrown tomatoes”                                                                                                  Lyrics by Guy Clark, Song: Homegrown Tomatoes

“Cheese Tart & Clicquot…Happy New Year”

It was crisply chilled, there were multiple bottles, they were shared among friends, we brought appetizer’s….small, delicate, chocolate “cake-ettes” appeared from our hostess…”Table Topics” was introduced & we were off on many conversational roads leading to others, politics, history, funny stories & memories, food……it was the best of New Year’s Eves. Happy 2011

Wouter, Nancy, Jim, Wendy, me & Bill

An “Alsatian Cheese Tart” for New Year’s Eve, adapted from a recipe found at epicurious.com, originally in “Gourmet” Magazine, Feb. 2006

For this you will need: 1 sheet of puff pastry, thawed; 1/2 cup whole milk cottage cheese; 1/4 cup plain yogurt; salt & pepper; 6 slices of bacon cooked crispy & broken into pieces; 1/2 small yellow onion sliced very thinly; 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

To Make:

I discovered this Puff Pastry “Dufour Pastry Kitchens” brand at Whole Foods a couple of days ago and butter is the first ingredients listed. This inspired me to try it out with this Tart recipe. It is very delicious, baked up perfectly and tasted  like puff pastry is supposed to taste. Buttery!

1. With oven rack in the middle of oven, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Thaw whatever puff pastry you use according to package directions.

2. While pastry is thawing prepare toppings. Blend together cottage cheese, yogurt, salt & pepper. Cook bacon ’til crisp & thinly slice onion.

3. Slightly roll out pastry on lightly floured surface with a rolling-pin. You will have a rectangle about 15″ x 10″ more or less.  Using a sharp knife I cut the pastry into two equal size pieces as I wanted to make one with bacon and the other vegetarian.

4. Place both pieces of pastry on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Spread half the cheese mixture over the surface of each to within 1 inch of edge all way around. Sprinkle thin slices of onion over all. On one side sprinkle all the crumbled bacon. Top both with grated Parmesan cheese. Optional: sprinkle over both a light dusting of Italian Seasoning.

5. Bake until the pastry is golden brown and puffy. About 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven and let rest for a few minutes. Cut into small “two-bite” squares to serve.

(While my tart was baking I made a cup of Yogi Chai Tea. The tags on the tea bags have “pearls of wisdom” on them…this “worth sharing” tag pretty much says it all)

….Out of the oven……

Bon Apetit all year-long!