Thursday, May 24, 2012
SPRING VEGETABLE PASTA SALAD + HOMEMADE PRODUCE WASH
To my utter surprise, this past Saturday I struck gold in the form of greenhouse tomatoes and cucumbers. It has been quite a while since I have had either as the supermarket versions just aren't worth the price. I bought out one vendor's cucumber supply [which sounds a bit obnoxious but really it was only 6 cucumbers] and a few of his tomatoes, promising to return later in the week for more. On our drive home I eagerly dreamed up what dinner would come of these precious finds. My husband just smiled at my child-like enthusiasm. It's times like these that I cherish and am reminded that some things are simply worth waiting for if for no other reason than to experience the anticipation and pure delight of it all. I think a child remains in all of us, sometimes it just seems to get lost in our immediate gratification world.
When dinner time rolled around my daughter polished off half a cucumber while I laid on the counter all of the fresh ingredients I could find: ramps [or wild leeks], asparagus and spinach fresh from the garden, garlic and then more garlic [can you really have enough?], and of course my greenhouse treasures. It happened to be almost 90 degrees at the time and all I could think about was raw, raw, raw. So here is a recipe with minimal cooking [only a quick saute for the ramps, garlic, and asparagus and a dunking of the pasta] and a host of fresh ingredients compliments of my local farmer friends.
As a quick aside, remember even if you are purchase organic produce it is still important to thoroughly wash your produce prior to cutting and eating. Here is a simple homemade recipe that is worth keeping on hand.
[HOMEMADE PRODUCE WASH]
1 c. water
1 c. vinegar
2 tbsp. real lemon juice
2 tbsp. baking soda
10 drops grapefruit seed extract
3 tbsp. salt
Mix all ingredient in a clean spray bottle or regular bottle [for a soak solution] and shake well until salt has dissolved. Spray fruit / vegetables generously and allow to sit for 5 - 10 minutes or add 1/4 - 1/2 cup of solution to a sinkful of water [or bucket / bowl / etc.], adjusting the amount of solution to the container and amount of water you are using. Let soak for 15 - 20 minutes, rinse well and dry.
May you take the time to wander through a market somewhere and get in touch with where your food comes from. May you find ways to experience anticipation and delightful fulfillment and may the child inside you be freed.
1 12 oz. package of gluten free pasta [try Tinkyada's vegetable spirals]
Homemade Italian Dressing [I use 1 c. of homemade canned tomato sauce in lieu of a tomato]
1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 bunch of wild ramps, a leek, or 1 medium onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 lb. asparagus, cut into small chunks
2 tomatoes, chopped [I like blending red and yellow tomatoes. If you prefer low acid or have trouble with acid, use two yellow tomatoes]
1 - 2 medium size cucumbers, chopped
large handful of spinach leaves, sliced in thin strips
raw sunflower seeds [optional]
Cook pasta according to manufacturer's instructions. While the pasta is cooking [be sure to check it from time to time to make sure it doesn't get too soft], make the dressing and chop all of the vegetables. Set aside.
Drain pasta, return to pot [uncovered], and add half of the dressing. Toss until pasta is thoroughly coated.
In a large skillet heat olive oil until hot but not smoking. Add ramps and garlic and saute for 2 - 3 minutes. Add asparagus and saute another 2 - 3 minutes or until asparagus is softened a bit but still firm and crunchy.
In a large glass bowl combine remaining vegetables: tomatoes, cucumbers, and spinach. Cover with remaining dressing and toss until coated. Add the sauteed asparagus, leeks, and garlic. Gently toss. Add pasta and again gently combine until well mixed.
Scoop onto plates and garnish with a small handful of raw sunflower seeds if desired.
This dish can be served slightly warm [it will be a little warm when completely assembled] or chilled. Both are equally fabulous!
Note: You could also make this with brown or black [forbidden] rice, quinoa, or millet and it would be equally as good!