I'm really trying to be better at waking up early enough to get to the Farmer's Market. I love the scene with all the booths and crowds of people, all the adorable puppies and babies. The Mosaic Market even has live music and food trucks. But I am not very good at cooking by the seat of my pants, so after I pick out some yummy looking veg, it usually ends up getting tossed into a pasta. Even more so when the market offers amazing artisan pasta from Pappardelle's Pasta. C'est la vie!
My first batch of veggies (asparagus, tomato, and leek) went into a white wine, lemon, and butter sauce with the garlic chive artisan pappardelle. I cooked the leek down in butter and olive oil, then added some white wine, lemon juice, and pasta water along with chopped tomatoes. When that had cooked to a good sauce consistency, I tossed in blanched asparagus and the cooked pasta (1 minute shy of al dente). I finished it off with lemon zest, Parmesan, and black pepper and served it with salmon.
I still had tomatoes and a random eggplant that I picked up for no reason, so I decided to do a riff on this pasta. I really should have used a whole wheat pasta, but I just love gemelli and I can't find it in whole wheat anywhere. It's the perfect short shape because it has good structural integrity (meaning it cooks evenly and doesn't get mushy edges).
Anyway, I roasted the eggplant while I caramelized an onion (I really wish I had a red onion, but I didn't). After adding garlic, a splash of sherry, and a splash of balsamic vinegar, I added some chopped tomato and a pat of butter (trying to get the essence of the Marcella Hazan sauce without cooking it for 45 minutes). Then I added in the eggplant, cooked pasta (1 minute shy of al dente), and a splash of pasta water and let it come together. Then I topped it with fresh basil and black pepper and served it with some hanger steak from the market (one of the few places where I can find it - there's only 1 per cow and they sell fast).
Farmer's Market Pasta with Asparagus
1/2 lb asparagus, ends trimmed, cut into bite sized lengths
1/2 lb of pappardelle
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
1 leek, white and light green parts only, cut into half moons
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
1 lemon, zested and juiced
splash of white wine
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the asparagus and cook for 2 minutes, it should turn bright green. Scoop out and place into an ice water bath, set aside. Add the pasta to the pot and cook for 1-2 minutes less than instructions for al dente. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of pasta water.
Meanwhile, heat the butter and olive oil in a deep saute pan. Add the leek and cook until soft, 3-5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, half the lemon juice (save the rest for something else), the white wine, and the reserved pasta water. Let simmer for a few minutes until the tomatoes are cooked to your liking and the mixture comes together into a sauce (this is really hard to describe).
Toss in the asparagus and pasta to heat through. Remove from heat and sprinkle with Parmesan and black pepper.
Farmer's Market Pasta with Eggplant
1/2 lb short pasta
1 medium eggplant, cubed
salt and pepper
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, minced
3 medium tomatoes, chopped
1 tbsp butter
handful fresh basil, cut into ribbons
Preheat the oven to 400 deg F and put a large pot of salted water on to boil. Toss the eggplant lightly with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and spread into a single layer on a sheet pan. Roast in the oven for 30 minutes or so, until the eggplant is brown and tender.
Meanwhile, heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring frequently. When they have softened and turned translucent, add a pinch of salt and reduce the heat to medium-low. Continue cooking until caramelized, about 30 minutes total.
Meanwhile, cook the pasta to 1-2 minutes less than al dente in the boiling water. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of pasta water.
When the onions are caramelized, add the garlic and cook for a moment more, then deglaze the pan with a splash each of sherry and balsamic vinegar. Add tomatoes and butter and heat to simmering. Add the eggplant and toss to combine, then add the pasta and a splash of the reserved pasta water and cook 1-2 minutes. Add more pasta water as necessary to achieve desired sauce consistency.
Remove the pan from the heat and top with basil and black pepper.