From my previous post it may look like my vegetable garden is losing it’s struggle with the local wild life. It is not so. I’m learning to garden in these difficult conditions, and I had some successes. The key is to protect the plants they favor, to plant what the beasts don’t like, or to grow whatever grows faster than they eat it. Most culinary herbs (basil, red sorrel, and dill are the exceptions) don’t seem to interest them. This year, my fava beans are my pride and joy. Fast growing, beautiful plants bear tons of tasty beans, and the only one who is interested is the gopher – and he cannot take them all. Well, he got a couple of plants, but I still have the rest!
Now they are at the peak of their short season, and they go happily into a ragout of fava beans, green beans, and English peas, seasoned with sautéed red onion, garlic, white wine, and good olive oil.
This week I also started cooking with fresh tomatoes again. They are not at their best yet, but after roasting the flavor gets more concentrated, and they make a good roasted tomato soup.
On the menu today:
Roasted tomato soup with pasta
Mushroom, ricotta, and spring onion tartlets
Tangy macaroni salad
Zucchini and carrot “spaghetti” primavera
Duck legs roasted with sweet onions, lemon, and olives
Herbed new potatoes
Lamb chops, chimichurri sauce
Fresh peas and beans ragout
Emerald-green goodness of fava beans and English peas bring the spring to the table.
This isn’t your orthodox spaghetti primavera. The “noodles” are cut out of Nantes carrots and zucchini with a julienne peeler, then steamed briefly and topped with a spring vegetables medley. I first developed this technique for a client who cannot eat any grains – I wanted to make a pasta for her. Then I realized that anyone who wants a vegan dish would probably enjoy it.
Today’s client, a mother of two, gets a little bunch of edible chive flowers for the Mother’s Day on her lamb chops.
Wild mushrooms sautéed with thyme and garlic, and thinly sliced spring onions, top these classic puff pastry ricotta tartlets.
What I bought as packaged “duck legs” in a Chinese grocery store turned out to be whole duck leg quarters! Good. More duck. First, cooked in a skillet, skin side down, to render the fat and to crisp the skin; then, slow-roasted in the oven on top of sweet onion slices, with lemon, rosemary, thyme, and white wine. Garnished with olives.
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