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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Roasted Asparagus with Arugula and Shallot Vinaigrette

Asparagus: It’s What’s for Dinner

Last week, I had the great opportunity to meet the celebrated food writer Patricia Wells at a private event sponsored by the St. Louis Culinary Society. She was in town promoting her new cookbook, Vegetable Harvest. She talked about her experience writing, testing and photographing all the recipes for the book and her absolute reverence for pure, fresh food came through bright and clear. How many people notice the “beautiful purple striations” in a shallot? I like her even more.

I’ve always been a fan of her simple, rustic cooking. I wore out my copy of Bistro Cooking when I was first teaching myself to cook, and still make a variation of her Sautéed Chicken with Shallots. My other favorites are the five flavored (chocolate, honey, lemon, pistachio and hazelnut) madeleine recipes in her book, Simply French. Luckily, these were two titles I didn’t lose in the flood.

And who could help envying her lifestyle? She lives in Provence in an old restored farmhouse, surrounded by olive trees, vineyards and lush vegetable gardens. No wonder this book inspires me! The recipes are all uncomplicated and full of the Mediterranean flavors I crave.

I went straight home and made this recipe from the book – just add a serving of grilled chicken or salmon and some crusty bread. Call it dinner.

Roasted Asparagus with Arugula and Shallot Vinaigrette

Adapted from Vegetable Harvest by Patricia Wells
Four servings

1 pound asparagus, bottoms trimmed
Shallot Vinaigrette (recipe follows)
Coarse sea salt
6 cups prewashed baby arugula
2 finely chopped green onions
1/4 cup shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (use a vegetable peeler)

Heat oven to 450 degrees. Toss asparagus on a baking sheet with 2 tablespoons of the shallot vinaigrette and season with salt. Sprinkle about 2 tablespoons water over asparagus.
Roast asparagus until slightly brown at the tips and slightly firm, about 12 minutes.
Toss arugula and green onions in a large bowl with remaining vinaigrette. Arrange on a serving platter and top with asparagus. Scatter the cheese over the top.

Shallot Vinaigrette

2 tablespoons minced shallots
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
Grated zest of 1 lemon
Pinch salt
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Place all ingredients in a small jar with a lid. Cover and shake until creamy and emulsified.
Can be refrigerated up to one day ahead.

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