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
  • Print

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

Spring Leeks & Asparagus Tarts

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“April come she will, When streams are ripe, And swelled with rain…….” (Lyrics by Paul Simon “April Come She Will”)

Somehow the end of March sneaked up on me while I wasn’t looking! I have been very aware of the trees leafing out, the tulips starting to bloom, daylight savings time of course, but the actual dates…not so much.

March was a very busy month for food styling with many photo shoots that needed a lot of my attention as well as a few garden renovation projects that have been taking up the remainder of my time. This morning I realized there is only one more day in March. I felt happy as this is a week I can stay home for a few days,  and a little sad as it is all moving by so quickly. Alas such is life! Is that not April I see on the near horizon?

I made this Spring Leeks & Asparagus Tarts recipe a couple of years ago for a dinner party. Perfect for an Easter brunch or lunch. Enjoy.

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Small leeks just pulled from the garden…

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….thin, tender asparagus, shallots chopped & caramelized……

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…crispy bacon crumbled.

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Flaky buttery pie crusts with just a bit of cornmeal to add some crunch. I just love these rectangle tart pans with fluted edges & removable bottoms. 

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Varicolored eggs…perfect for Easter.

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A scattering of chopped leeks over the crusts, topped with a parmesan-egg mix….

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…caramelized shallots ….

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…decoratively arranged asparagus…one tart with bacon, one without.

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Puffy, warm and ready to eat.

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Spring Leek & Asparagus Tarts

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Print

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Ingredients:

  • For 2 crusts: 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, 1/3 cup yellow cornmeal.1 tsp salt, 1 cup cold butter cut into small pieces & ice water
  • 6-8 small Spring leeks (or 2 regular size leeks), trimmed & sliced
  • 1/2 lb thin asparagus spears
  • 8 eggs
  • 7 slices bacon cooked crisp & chopped
  • 2 shallots, chopped & sautéed until caramelized
  • 1 cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup plain Greek Yogurt
  • Sea Salt & Black Pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. In a food processor place the flour, cornmeal & salt &  pulse a few times. Add butter pieces & pulse until mixture is crumbly looking. With processor running drizzle in ice water until a dough ball forms. Remove dough & divide in half forming two balls. Flatten each into a disk, wrap in plastic & chill for 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  3. Roll out dough and fit into two rectangle tart pans with removable bottoms, trimming edges,  or 2 pie pans.
  4. In a mixing bowl whisk together the eggs, Parmesan cheese, yogurt & salt & black pepper until well blended. Set aside.
  5. Evenly scatter the sliced leeks over the bottom of each tart shell and ladle the egg mixture over the top.
  6. Sprinkle the top of each tart with caramelized shallots & chopped bacon. I added the bacon to one tart and made the other vegetarian.
  7. Decoratively place the asparagus spears over the tops of each tart gently pressing into the filling.
  8. Place filled tart pans on a baking sheet and bake for 30-40 minutes or until they are golden brown and puffy. Remove to cool a few minutes before serving on a wire rack. Serve hot or at room temp.

“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