This weekend marked the second week of my family's favorite farmer's market. It was so great. (But it's always great because it's the best farmer's market in the world.) My husband and I shared a ham and cheese crepe with fresh peppery chives in it - note: chives go v. well with ham and cheese. Who knew? We got some spicy pickled brussels sprouts and a big bag of arugula and some herbs that cost about a third of what I've been paying at the store lately. I also bought rhubarb for the second time in my life and am determined, this time, to use it before it gets floppy. (I'm entertaining the thought of a mango-rhubarb coffee cake or crisp. Thoughts, anyone?) Finally, we got asparagus. I thought we were big asparagus growers here in the midwest, but maybe that's not true. Our co-op, which is fairly dedicated to distributing local produce when available, is selling asparagus from Washington right now. We've never gotten asparagus from our CSA farm, which is in Wisconsin. And at the farmer's market, only one vendor had it, whereas there were several folks selling rhubarb, herbs, various spring greens, and doughnuts. I guess its elusiveness in Minneapolis makes asparagus a hot commodity, in turn making the recipe below not the simple little salad recipe that it appears to be at first glance, but rather a special, get-it-while-you-can-because-you-only-can-briefly-at-least-if-you-live-in-Minneapolis little salad recipe. And a tasty, super healthy one, at that.
It's one of my favorites. It's light and fresh and summery and yet substantial enough to be your whole dinner.
It's the reason I've been on the lookout for asparagus.
Not persuaded? Here are five other reasons to make this: (1) It's inexpensive. (2) I think kids would like it, but I am not positive about that, as my kid's not old enough to. (3) It stores well, so it can travel to a picnic (just add the cheese and olive oil at the last minute before tossing), or if you are only feeding yourself or yourself + 1, it makes enough for tasty leftovers, which can be eaten cold or lukewarm (just microwave for about thirty seconds or so). (4) It is healthy and pretty - I have served it for guests on three occasions and it has consistently gone over v. well. (5) It uses up frozen peas. Maybe you are like me and always happen to have frozen peas in your freezer just begging to be used. "Help! I am a hundred years old! Cook me!" That's what my peas would say if they could talk. Unless you were my company one of those three times I served this for company. Those peas were super fresh.
Pasta Salad Revisited
Adapted from 101Cookbooks
Yield: 4-6 main course servings
1/2 pound cheese or mushroom ravioli
1 bunch fresh asparagus, sliced into 3-inch pieces
2 cups frozen peas
4 big handfuls of baby spinach (or other fresh, coarsely chopped greens)
1/2 cup sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds, toasted
2 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
salt and pepper
Cook the ravioli according to package instructions. Throw the peas and asparagus into the boiling water with the ravioli for the last two minutes. Drain the ravioli, peas and asparagus and run cold water over them until they are no longer hot. Place the spinach in a large serving bowl and add the cooked and slightly cooled ravioli, peas, and asparagus. Top with sunflower or pumpkin seeds and feta cheese. Toss with a couple tablespoons of olive oil and season to taste with salt and pepper.
The original version calls for parmesan rather than feta. I'm sure that would be lovely although I've never used it myself. I have, however, added some fresh herbs that I was trying to use up (e.g., mint, basil, scallions, chives, and stevia leaves). While they are by no means necessary, if you have them, they go well with the basic ingredients listed in the recipe.
It is a whole lot of sunny delicious summer here today. I need to get off this compy and take my baby for a walk. Have a good one!