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If you're like us, you look to the seasons for what to cook. Get to the market, and we'll show you what to do with your haul.
Today: A lush, creamy pasta, perfect for spring's fresh peas -- or the ones in a bag in your freezer.
Each weekend I tiptoe down the street to my farmers market, so hopeful for signs of spring that I'm almost too afraid to look, the same way you might avoid reading a message from a potential love interest because you're unsure of what it might say.
Each weekend the spring vegetables, those elusive lovers, let me down.
But last week there were chives! Which feels like the herbal equivalent of: Oh my gosh, he said "hey"!! I will take what I can get, so I grabbed the wavering little bunch and paid my dollar fifty and started dreaming of all of the lush, creamy things I could sprinkle them atop.
Scrambled eggs were a good start, but you already know how to make those. So we move on to this pasta.
There's something I like very much about making one of the first recipes in a cookbook; it's logical, clean. This recipe arrives on page seven of Canal House Cooks Everyday, and is called -- wait for it -- Pappardelle with Peas and Scallions Bathed in Cream! Your pasta has washed itself in cream. Most likely in a claw-foot tub.
It calls, generously, for frozen peas, a provision that looks kindly upon those of us who have arrived on April's doorstep with too many sweaters and not enough greens. You resuscitate them in boiling pasta water, blanching them alongside a handful of chopped scallions.
While everything drains together, cream and butter join forces back in the pot, and become sauce. The vegetables and pasta take their bath, and you add gobs of Parmesan. You make it rain black pepper.
And then -- here's the seasonal part! -- you snip a whole lot of chives and mint over top. The original recipe calls for neither, but mint swiftly pulls creamy, cheesy pasta out of one-note territory. The chives offer a glimpse of verdant hope.
I also nixed the papardelle, as it is impossible for me to transport long noodles and tiny peas into my mouth in one bite. I prefer pasta that looks like brains, which you can find here, but you could also use orecchiette, or anything else that will nimbly capture a pea in its grasp.
Once fresh peas are here, give them free reign over this dish. Or use bits of asparagus instead, and ramps instead of scallions. I can't wait to coat mine with tarragon confetti. Mix and match the greens of spring, whenever they choose to come.
Serves 2 to 3, and can easily be doubled
1/2 pound pasta -- I like reginetti, orecchiette, or something that will aptly hold on to peas and cream
1/2 pound frozen or fresh peas (You could also use slices of asparagus)
3 to 4 scallions, chopped
1 tablespoon good butter (preferably salted)
1/2 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup grated Parmesan
Lots of freshly cracked black pepper
Flaky salt, to taste
10 to 12 mint leaves, or a small handful
Snips of chives or tarragon, optional
Photos by Eric Moran