Archive for the 'Vegetables' Category

Fettucini with Ramps and Asparagus

Fettucini with Asparagus and Ramps

If you’ve read this blog before, it becomes readily apparent that I’m not a vegetable-centric cook.  But after a long winter where the only vegetables at the farmer’s market were lettuces and carrots, the arrival of asparagus, ramps, and tomatoes yesterday really got me excited.  The sign at Westmoreland Berry Farm’s stand announcing that there would be strawberries in two weeks didn’t hurt.

While running errands later in the day, all I could think about was what exactly I’d do with my vegetable bounty. I settled pretty quickly on pasta but the details were still a mystery. I contemplated using pancetta or bacon. Then I wondered if I should add cream or cheese.

In the end, I went for the route of simple.  No pork products.  No cream.  No cheese.  Just saute the vegetables in butter and use the pasta water as a sauce.

It’s amazing what such a simple sauce can provide in flavor.  In a word, it tasted like spring.  The pasta absorbed the flavor of the asparagus and ramps and tasted nearly perfect.  The flavor was mild such that anything richer or heavier, like bacon or cream, would’ve over powered it.

Ramps and Asparagus

Fettucini with Ramps and Asparagus

6 large stalks of asparagus
8 oz. ramps
3 tbsp of butter, divided
salt and pepper
1 large shallot, diced
fresh pasta made with 2 cups of flour and 2 eggs

  1. Break the bottom off the asparagus and discard the bottom.  Use a vegetable peeler to remove the skin on the bottom portion of the asparagus.  Cut the asparagus into 1″ pieces.
  2. Clean the ramps.  Separate the leaves from the white parts of the ramps.  Tear the leaves into 1″ pieces.
  3. Heat 2 tbsp of butter over medium heat in a large skillet.  Add the asparagus and white part of the ramps.  Season with salt and pepper.  Cook, stirring regularly, until the asparagus and ramps begin to brown, 2 to 3 minutes.
  4. Add the shallots and cook for a minute more.
  5. Add the ramp leaves, season with salt, and cook until the ramp leaves are wilted.
  6. Meanwhile, cook the pasta in salted boiling water until slightly undercooked.  Drain the pasta, reserving the cooking water.
  7. Add the pasta to the skillet.  Add 1/2 cup reserved pasta water to the skillet.  Increase the heat to medium-high and cook until the pasta water is mostly absorbed and the rest is thickened.
  8. Remove from the heat and add the remaining 1 tbsp of butter.  Stir until the butter is incorporated into the pasta.
  9. Serve immediately.

Serves 2.

Cajun Corn

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Growing up, we usually had meals which featured a protein, a starch, and a vegetable. I usually liked the protein and starch well enough but, like most kids, I stayed away from the vegetables. At that point, I was what would could only kindly be described as a picky eater. The list of vegetables I’d eat was pretty limited. It didn’t help that about the only vegetable we ever seemed to eat was canned green beans.

I’ve gotten better about vegetables but I’m still significantly vegetable challenged. I like them enough but it’s rather frequent where I’m making dinner and can only muster enough effort for a protein and starch. To compound the problem, I don’t have that many different recipes for vegetables that I like. Vegetables must be cooked well for me to like them.

I don’t remember when I first started making this recipe. It was awhile ago. It’s pretty simple and doesn’t require a whole lot of effort. It’s easy to make along with something else. It also has strong flavors that go well with spicy foods.

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This time I tried something different: I used the Creole Seasoning recipe from the cookbook. In the past, I just used some Zatarain’s Creole Seasoning that I had purchased at some point in time. I suppose it might make me a bad person to use a premixed seasoning but it was easy and it was there.

I figured using a homemade spice blend would clearly be superior to the premixed variety. But I was wrong, sort of. The two different spice blends yield very different results. The Zatarain’s is spicier and saltier. The homemade spice blend has a smoky flavor and has the savory flavor of the herbs. I prefer the homemade spice blend but Angela liked the Zatarain’s. It’s still up in the air which I’ll use in the future. Most likely, I’ll use each at different times depending on what we’re eating it with.

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Cajun Corn
Adapted from Dinosaur Bar-B-Que: An American Roadhouse

4 tbsp butter
1 tbsp minced garlic
3 cups frozen corn, defrosted
5 tsp Creole Seasoning
salt
2 tbsp chopped fresh Italian parsley

  1. Melt the butter in a medium sauce pan over medium heat. When the butter has stopped foaming, add the garlic and sauté until golden, about 3 minutes.
  2. Add the corn to the sauce pan and mix well.
  3. Add the Creole Seasoning and season with salt to taste. Cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes to allow the corn to heat through.
  4. Remove the sauce pan from the heat and stir in the parsley.
  5. Serve immediately.

Serves 4.


Creole Seasoning
Adapted from Dinosaur Bar-B-Que: An American Roadhouse

1/2 cup paprika
1/2 cup powdered garlic
1/4 cup powdered onion
3 tbsp ground black pepper
2 tsp ground white pepper
2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 cup dried oregano
1/4 cup dried thyme
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tbsp sugar

  1. Mix together all ingredients and place in a sealable container.

Makes 2 1/2 cups.