Thursday, July 7, 2011

CSA Share Bounty

Summer is finally arriving in the form of fresh produce from my City Fresh CSA.  Yes, I do tend to go on about this program (see my other blog for my latest on City Fresh) but I value what they bring to my table and the work that they're doing in our community.

My City Fresh share for this week.
Although it seems as though I could never possibly eat everything in my weekly share, part of the fun of it is trying.  This week I made one of my favorite simple meals - pasta and vegetables.  There are endless variations on this theme and no two times I make it does it come out the same.  The shape and types of pasta in my pantry and the kinds of cheeses I have hanging out in my fridge tend to dictate the outcome. 

However, using this same basic technique makes a really simple and fast dinner in the time it takes to boil your pasta. 

This week, I looked over my CSA and used what I had on hand, including a bit of leftover garlic brie cheese spread threatening to go green on me any day now.  Keeping to a theme, I picked out some penne pasta from the pantry and cut my vegetables in the same shape so that they all fit neatly on a fork.  Adding the creamy cheese made this very filling and frankly I ended up eating twice out of this particlar pan, but that's OK, it was really good both days.

So with no further ado - I give you.......


2/3 cup penne pasta
3-4 tablespoon fresh shelled peas
1 tablespoon diced green onion or shallot
1 small clove garlic, minced or 1 chopped garlic scape
1 1/2 cups mixed vegetables, cut into sticks about the same size as the pasta
2-3 leaves of swiss chard (or you can use spinach or kale) cleaned well and cut into ribbons
pinch of red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons creamy cheese spread (I used a garlic brie)
salt and pepper to taste
parmesan cheese for topping
1-2 fresh basil leaves, sliced thin for garnish (optional)

Set a pot of water on to boil for the pasta.  Once it boils, salt well and add the peas.  Allow to simmer until done, 4-5 minutes.  Remove from the pot and set aside.  Bring the water to a boil again and add the pasta.  Cook for 8-12 minutes. 

Meanwhile, cut up your vegetables and have them ready as you would do for a stir fry (this dish comes together quickly so there's no time for slicing and dicing as you cook).   For this dish I used a mixture of zucchini, yellow squash, red bell pepper, carrots, swiss chard and the fresh peas that I blanched in the pasta water before I cooked the pasta.

Heat a small, heavy, non-stick skillet over medium high heat.  Add the olive oil.  Add green onions or shallots, garlic or scape, peppers and carrots as they take the longest to cook.  Cook 2-3 minutes, tossing in the pan or stirring so they don't burn.

Add the red pepper flakes, squashes and the chard.  Continue to cook, stirring, until the chard is cooked through. 

At this point the pasta should be done.  Use a spider to remove it from the pasta water (you may want some of the water to thin out your sauce).  Add the peas and the pasta to the skillet and toss to combine everything. 

Add the creamy cheese to the skillet and toss everything together until the cheese melts.  Use some of the pasta water if you need to thin this out a bit.  Taste and add salt and pepper as needed. 

Serve immediately.  Garnish with fresh parmesan and a chiffonade of fresh basil if you like.

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