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Mr Rigg and I have had a lovely weekend with my family.  Yesterday before we left my mom and I made a delicious pasta dinner using green spring inspired vegetables.  Simply dreamt up with the ingredients we had.  Here’s how we made it…

Spring vegetable pasta

Feeds 2

2 small to medium leeks
Half a bunch of asparagus
Small bowlful of frozen peas
2 handfuls of shelled broad beans
2 spring onions
Long thin pasta for two
2 rashers of bacon (optional)
Parmesan to serve
Butter, olive oil, salt and pepper

Melt a generous knob of butter in a saucepan.  Finely slice the leeks and saute in the butter until soft.  You can also add a couple of teaspoonfuls of the pasta cooking water.  Season with salt and pepper.

If you are having bacon, cut it into small pieces and fry until crispy.

Put on a pan of boiling salted water and cook the pasta accordingly.  About 3-5 minutes before the pasta is ready, add the broad beans and peas.  Slice the asparagus diagonally into small slithers and add them to the pasta, peas and beans to cook for a few minutes.

Slice up the spring onions and add to the leeks. 

When the pasta and vegetables are cooked, drain the water and tip the pasta into the pan with the leeks.  Stir well, add a little olive oil and season to taste if needed.  Add a little more butter if the pasta is a little dry.

Eat the pasta topped with crispy bacon and shards of Parmesan and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

Better looking photos thanks to the little sister’s camera!

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It is asparagus season and I’m planning on eating as much of it as possible!

Last night we made a sort of carbonara with asparagus and streaky bacon.  I say ‘sort of’ because we aimed to use eggs…and then discovered we had none. 

Instead, dinner was salvaged by a combination of creme fraiche and tallegio cheese.  Together with oven baked asparagus and crisp shards of streaky bacon it was a match made in heaven.  The tallegio provided a wonderful silky texture which was like that of egg yolk.

Asparagus and streaky bacon spaghetti

Feeds 2

Bunch of fresh asparagus
3-4 rashers of streaky bacon
Spaghetti for 2
2 tbsp creme fraiche
Piece of tallegio cheese, cut into small cubes

Preheat the oven to 200°C. 

Snap the woody ends of the asparagus – they will break naturally.  Pop them into an oven proof dish, drizzle with olive oil, scatter over some salt and pepper and if you’d like some lemon thyme leaves.  Put them in the oven for between 5 and 10 minutes – remove when tender.

Meanwhile, put the spaghetti on to cook in boiling salted water.

Snip the rashers of streaky bacon into small pieces and fry in a hot pan until crispy.

Once the asparagus is cooked, remove and slice into smaller pieces. 

Drain the spaghetti, mix in the creme fraiche and stir well.  Add in the asparagus and crispy bacon, followed by the cubes of tallegio.  Mix well and eat right away.

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I am currently holed up in bed, for what looks like the week, with suspected swine flu – oh joy!  N is picking up my dose of Tamiflu on his way home from work, and hopefully I will be back to good health in no time.  So, after spending the night sleeping upright on the sofa and not getting to sleep until about 3.30am I am trying to cheer myself up by sharing the latest from the allotment.

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Last week N and I lifted all the onions and shallots growing on the allotment.  I have never grown onions or shallots, but grown from sets they are pretty hassle-free, apart from the odd weeding session.  I’d noticed the last time I’d been to the allotment that their green spiky tops had started to wither and fade, so pulled out my Grow Your Own Veg book by Carol Klein to find out how to harvest them.

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N used a fork to carefully lift the clusters of shallots and onions out of the soil, and I followed behind breaking up the shallots, rubbing off large clods of earth and popping them into my basket.  It was that simple.

Once we got home, we set about putting them out to dry.  Rather conveniently we were away over the weekend at a friend’s wedding, so we cleared the draining board and counter top next to the sink – the sink has a large window that lets in lots of light, which I thought would be the best place in our house for the onions to dry out.  We lay down a couple of tea towels and used the wire stand from inside the grill tray to allow air to circulate around the onions – which is what the book had recommended as ideal.

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They look really beautiful, these soil encrusted orbs which glow a brilliant amber where the papery outside layer has been removed.  Now we just need to store them properly in order to keep them as long as possible into the autumn – that’s if we can resist making a meal from them.

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One of my favourite onion recipes is Pasta with Lemon and Onion.  Simply saute an onion (any kind will do, ordinary, white or red) in some olive oil and a knob of butter until soft.  You can pop a couple of sprigs of thyme in to impart its flavour if you like.  Add in the zest of a lemon, season with salt and pepper.  Remove the thyme sprig before tipping into your drained pasta.  Loosen it up a little with some extra virgin olive oil, squeeze in lemon juice to taste, and add a good handful of finely chopped parsley.  Eat with a sprinkling of Parmesan.  We had this for tea last night and it is just so homely – like a big hug.  Perfect for people suffering from swine flu or other flu-like bugs!

A quick hello at the end of long day.  N and I have had a lovely week of cooking and eating – we’ve made fairy cakes with butter icing and raspberry jam…pink gooseberry and nettle fool…pasta with homemade fresh tomato sauce and basil dressing…and pea, mint and taleggio risotto. 

I’ve spent hours stood in my vegetable patch munching on so many peas that I couldn’t eat anymore….picked juicy strawberries that have never reached the kitchen…tidied the allotment and watched ladybird larvee turn into ladybirds…and been to a lovely garden party in Walton Lea’s walled garden.

ladybirds

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The second asparagus recipe of the season, but one that doesn’t feature asparagus in its naked glory.  Usually I only eat asparagus on its own, with delicious extras that enhance its earthy flavours, so putting it into pasta was a first.  It was delicious, and I would definitely do it again.

Asparagus and mushroom pasta

Serves 2

Pasta (enough for two)
Bundle of asparagus
200g chestnut mushrooms
Spoonful of mascarpone cheese
Handful of grated Parmesan

Preheat the oven to 180-200°C.

Cook the pasta as you normally would or according to the packet.

Prepare the asparagus by gently bending the stems until they naturally snap – discard the woody stem.  Pour a little olive oil into a roasting dish and add the asparagus.  Add a little salt and pepper and mix well before shoving in the oven for about 15-20 minutes or until the asparagus is tender.

Meanwhile, roughly chop the mushrooms and heat a knob of butter in a frying pan.  Add the mushrooms to the pan and cook on a high heat until they start to crisp and turn golden.

When the pasta is cooked, drain and return to the pan.  Stir in a spoonful of mascarpone cheese, some salt and pepper, and a little extra virgin olive.  Tip in the cooked mushrooms.  Spoon the pasta onto your warm plates.

Cut the roasted asparagus into pieces – I used a pair of tongs and scissors.  Add the asparagus to the pasta, and top with some grated Parmesan and a drizzle of oil.

hearty tomato, lemon and lentil soup

hearty tomato, lemon and lentil soup

This recipe should be tried by all – it’s delicious.  A fantastic winter soup that will bring a little ray of summer sunshine into these cold and dismal days.  It bursts with rich tomato and zingy lemon, but with deep earthy lentils and hearty pasta twirls.  And what’s more, it is made from store cupboard staples.  We ate large bowlfuls with grated Parmesan and a sprinkling of torn parsley.  For lunch the next day I finished up the leftovers with a pile of sunflower sprouts and a drizzle of oil.

Tomato, Lemon and Lentil Soup

Serves 2
(this is what the recipe says, but really it’s two large bowlfuls and one for lunch the next day)

1 onion, peeled and chopped
1 garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
400g tin plum tomatoes
60g red lentils
900ml (1 1/2 pints) vegetable stock
75g fusilli
Olive oil
Lemon juice
Salt and Pepper

Delicious garnishes: torn flat leaf parsley or sunflower sprouts

Heat some oil in a large saucepan and gentle fry the onion, garlic and carrot until soft.

Add the tinned tomatoes and break up a bit. Add the red lentils and stock and stir well. Bring to the boil, then lower the heat and simmer for about 30 minutes until the lentils are tender.

While the soup is simmering, cook the pasta in a separate pan. This is really important – the first time I made this soup I thought I would save on washing up and bunged the dry pasta in with the soup to cook. The soup turned out more like a stew as the pasta absorbed too much of the cooking liquid.

When the soup has had its 30 minutes, use a hand blended to blitz it up a little bit so that it is a mixture or smooth and coarse textures. Add the pasta and a generous squeeze of lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper.

Make sure you taste the soup and add more lemon juice, salt and pepper until the soup bursts with flavour in your mouth.

Serve in warm bowls with plain or with a garnish of your choice.

soup with sunflower sprouts

soup with sunflower sprouts

This recipe is taken and slightly adapted from Family Food by Silvana Franco.

Linguine with homemade meatballs

Linguine with homemade meatballs

Last night for tea we made homemade meatballs with linguine and a tomato sauce.  When it comes to following recipes, I’m not very good at sticking to them unless requires precision – things like pastry I’m not yet confident at “adding a little bit of this ” and a “little bit of that.”  Instead I often use recipes as a guide, or more often than not just the title or photo of a recipe to make my own version. 

So last night I created my own spaghetti and meatballs after seeing a delicious photo in Jamie at Home (one of my all time favourite recipe books, and probably my most used).  Most of the time I don’t have all the ingredients a recipe calls for, and I’m not very good at planning ahead and going out to stock up on the right ingredients.  So instead I substitute with ingredients I have hanging around in my fridge or cupboards, or just work my way around them.

We made our meatballs from mince beef (from Little Heath Farm) rather than sausagemeat.  We mixed the raw meat with breadcrumbs (I blitzed up a few slices of a Sweet Poppy Seed loaf from Barbakan), some dried herbs that my mom had brought me back from France, and some salt and pepper.  N shaped them into small balls and we cooked them in a good glug of olive oil under brown and crispy. 

No spaghetti in the house, just angel hair or linguine – I opted for linguine I felt as the angel hair was too thin for a thick tomatoey sauce and meatballs.  The tomato sauce consisted of chopped garlic, parsley stalks finely chopped, a tin of cherry tomatoes, and a glug of balsamic vinegar – plus seasoning.  This was blitzed up, spooned over the cooked linguine, and the meatballs piled on top, finished with a handful of chopped parsley.  The recipe called for peas.  I wanted peas, planned on having peas, but forgot the peas.  Oh well.  Maybe next time.

Yum

Yum

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Eat the Earth

I love food, especially locally grown and seasonal food. This is my place to share my food finds and the food I like to eat.

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All pictures are my own unless stated. I would kindly ask that you don't use them elsewhere unless you ask permission first. Many thanks x

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