Pasta Primavera with Asparagus and Poached Egg, Locavore Style

photo by Josh Monken for Sauce

Simple Springtime Feast
I’m all about eating local now that our farmer’s markets are open for business and offering freshly picked spring vegetables like radishes and asparagus.

And I’ll find just about any excuse to eat fresh pasta, especially when the entire dish features ingredients that I’ve sourced locavore-style. I have a thing for oozy poached eggs, and using them as a topper for pastas and salads provides little extra protein and brilliant orange color.

I wrote a feature about this recipe which appears in the May, 2008 issue Sauce Magazine, which I had posted recently but have removed for copyright reasons – instead, you can read the original at the Sauce website.

photo by Josh Monken for Sauce
Fettuccine Primavera with Goat Cheese, Crisp Prosciutto and Poached Egg

4 thin slices prosciutto
4 ounces fresh goat cheese, softened at room temperature
2 tablespoons heavy cream
¼ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Finely grated zest and juice from half a lemon
Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 bunch asparagus, stems trimmed and sliced into 2-inch pieces
9 ounces fresh fettuccine or tagliatelle pasta
4 soft-poached quail eggs*

1. Arrange the prosciutto on a small baking sheet and roast in a 400-degree oven for about 10 minutes, or until crisp. Cool slightly and break into pieces. (prepare up to one day ahead – keep in a covered container at room temperature)

2. Crumble the goat cheese into a large mixing bowl. Add the cream, Parmigiano-Reggiano, lemon zest, juice, salt and pepper to taste and stir until smooth.

3. Bring 5 quarts water to a boil in a large saucepan and add 1 tablespoon salt. Drop in asparagus and cook until bright green and tender, about 3 minutes. Remove asparagus with a slotted spoon and add to the goat cheese mixture. Add pasta to the pan and cook 1 – 2 minutes, or according to directions. Scoop out a ladleful of pasta water (about 1/3 cup) and pour it into the goat cheese mixture, stirring to melt cheese and make a smooth sauce. Drain pasta and toss with the goat cheese until evenly coated with sauce.

4. Divide pasta between two serving bowls. Top with poached eggs and sprinkle with prosciutto.

Serves 2

* To poach eggs, bring a small skillet full of water to a simmer. Add a tablespoon of plain white vinegar. Crack eggs into the pan; keeping heat at a steady simmer (not boiling), cook eggs until whites are firm and yolks are just set, about 2 minutes for quail eggs and 4 minutes for chicken eggs. Remove with a slotted spoon.

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Homemade Granola

My favorite granola with yogurt


I’d never tasted homemade granola until I was in my early twenties, when my friend Dorie gifted me with some that her mother had made. I remember opening the bag doubtfully, expecting some hard-to-chew cereal product I might be temped to feed to a horse.

Just for frame of reference, this was back in 1980-something, when granola was regarded as an outdated by-product of the seventies, right up there with crocheted plant cozies made from hemp fiber and men sporting four-inch wide sideburns.

But just like Oprah, I had an “Aha!” moment right then and there. Too bad my moment didn’t foreshadow the possibility of making my fortune selling fifteen-dollar bags of granola in fancy food stores, as I’m sure Oprah’s would have.

No, it wasn’t my instinct for making money that was awakened, but my sense of what “homemade” meant. This granola was so unlike the achingly sweet stuff I was used to eating out of a box it was like a different category of food altogether. It smelled of butter and vanilla; each grain and seed tasted fresh and toasted. There were sesame seeds in there, I remember, and nice crunchy clumps of oats. I ate it all and then wanted more.

I begged Dorie to ask her mom for the recipe, but she never delivered it. Apparently that granola was a closely guarded family recipe. What is it with people and their secret recipes? I’ve never understood the urge to protect a recipe. Why not share the love?

I went on a search mission to replicate the granola recipe. I came close with one batch from Marion Cunningham’s The Breakfast Book, but it wasn’t quite the same. I finally settled on the formula below, which is based on one that I think came from an issue of Gourmet magazine circa 1990 or so (since all I have is the an index card, I can’t be sure).

This recipe makes a good-sized batch of granola; you can keep it in a covered container for two weeks or so, or be generous and give some to friends – and don’t forget to pass along the recipe.

And if Dorie is out there, I’d still love to know your mom’s secret!

Granola

4 cups old-fashioned oats

1 cup unsweetened dried coconut

1 cup whole almonds

1 cup of your choice hulled raw pumpkin seeds or raw cashews

1/2 cup sesame seeds

1/4 cup ground flax seed

1/4 cup raw wheat germ

3/4 cup pure maple syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

1/3 cup melted butter or vegetable oil

Heat oven to 325 degrees.

In a large bowl, layer all ingredients through wheat germ in order given. Pour maple syrup over mixture and stir upward from the bottom, taking care to coat the almonds. Add the vanilla, salt and butter and stir once more to combine well.

Spread the granola in an even layer on a large rimmed sheet pan, or 2 smaller rimmed pans.
Bake 15 minutes; stir granola and bake 10 minutes more or until mixture is golden and almonds are toasted.

Other FamilyStyle Favorites to try:

Homemade Vanilla Extract
Best Buttermilk Pancakes
Whole Grain Pancakes with Roasted Pears

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