Inspiration for tonight's dinner: fresh mint and its ability to make the stars of the season absolutely sing.
Spring is exploding outside, inside, at the farmers market, and in some of our hay fever-prone heads. This can only mean one thing: time to let the earthy gifts of May work their green magic on our weeknight dinner plates!
Asparagus's woodsy crunch is coaxed out by snippets of mint in Meatballs&Milkshakes' stunning Shaved Asparagus and Mint Salad. A tough act to follow, but lechef's rich and indulgent Pasta with Proscuitto, Snap Peas, Mint and Cream is up to the task. A mint-alicious feast of a weeknight dinner, and why not? As a very wise woman once said, "Too much of a good thing can be wonderful"*.
*Disclaimer: It is possible that Mae West may not have been referring to spring produce.
The Grocery List (for 4)
1/4 pound proscuitto shank
1 pint cream
1/2 lb snap peas
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
1 bunch asparagus
1 handful of hazelnuts
I assume you have dried pasta (the recipe calls for farfalle or orecchiette but any small, bouncy pasta works), garlic, onions, salt, pepper, olive oil, vinegar (preferably sherry), honey, parmesan, and a lemon. If not (and I really bet you do) add those pantry essentials to the list!
1. Pasta is happening tonight, so the first thing to do is get a big pot of generously salted water (supposedly it should taste like the ocean) on the stove. Now you can turn your attention to the salad.
2. Shave all of that asparagus with a vegetable peeler. Sure, it sounds a little tedious, but it's also simple and meditative. Zone in on NPR, or some relaxing music and peel stresses of the day away. Toss the shavings with the hazelnuts.
3. Prep the dressing for the salad and set it aside.
4. Back to the pasta! It will require all of your attention for about 12 minutes, after which it will be creamy, hot and very ready to be eaten! Dress the salad and have a seat.
Aside: I say we pour a sunny, well-chilled Chenin blanc with this meal and pretend we're in France. Happy springtime, friends!