This post is the fourth and final recipe post in a series sponsored by Microsoft Office, who is also sponsoring a LAPTOP GIVEAWAY for us right now. Go enter the giveaway, then come back here and make this pasta for a light, summer dinner.
We have a new personal “project” this season, though really, we think it’s just an introduction to a gradual change in our lifestyle: we’re trying as much as we can to shop farmers’ markets and cook with whatever we find that day.
It’s not like we haven’t been doing that already, but it’s been on a more leisurely, social level, where strolling through the huge Hollywood Farmers Market late Sunday morning is an “activity” that leads into a lazy afternoon brunch.
For a number of reasons now (which we don’t have to repeat because you’ve heard them all over and over again from pretty much everyone), especially because it’s almost summer, we want to do this a lot more often. We’re lucky that our TasteSpotting HQ is here in southern California where there are at least 5 or 6 markets happening each day of the week. Why wouldn’t we grab fava beans, carrots in colors we’ve never seen before, tiny purple artichokes, watermelon, fragrant herbs, the reddest ripest sweetest strawberries we’ll ever eat, and more?
We’re still getting used to shopping and cooking this way: ingredients come first, figure out a recipe later. (Look at where we come from; our whole existence is based on recipes.) But we’re finding that simple preparations that don’t actually require complicated recipes, or riff on a basic technique, are the best thing for fresh produce, like pasta and lightly sauteed vegetables of any kind, tossed with a green pesto made of whatever herbs, leafy greens, or even not-so-leafy green vegetables you come across at the market.
Asparagus and peas were abundant at the time we made this, so we added them to a chromatically appropriate green tea soba, and then tossed it with pesto from flash-blanched (is that even a term? It might be redundant and we might have made it up) kale. Rather than using the regular cheese and nuts for salt and texture, we used chickpeas. We used canned chickpeas, but I’m sure some markets will have fresh chickpeas, too.
We’ve been experimenting with Microsoft Office’s OneNote the last few months, and shopping the farmers market was a good test for us. Throughout the regular workweek, we copy down recipes and ideas from our wanderings around the food web that we want to try into a OneNote notebook. Before we head out to the weekend markets, we sync everything to our phone so we have it handy while we out. On our phone, we would keep our recipes up and scan them every once in a while to see if there was something at the market that could fit into some adaptation of the recipes and ideas we had collected. We also used OneNote to take note of what produce was in abundance and which farm stands had the best of a certain kind of fruit or vegetable (e.g. we don’t go anywhere but Harry’s Berries for strawberries, but hop down a few stands to Pudwil’s Farms for black-, blue-, and raspberries) for next time.
Kale Chickpea Pesto Green Tea Soba with Asparagus and Peas
We like the pesto that everyone normally thinks of when they hear the word just fine: basil, Parmesan cheese, pine nuts. But basil isn’t necessarily our favorite herb, so we’ve been making pesto with everything from peppery arugula to superfood kale. When we use nuts, we go with toasted walnuts over pine nuts (may as well get the health benefits of the walnuts), but in this pesto, we left them out, making this pesto good if you’re allergic to nuts or watching fat calories (though of course, pesto is almost 70% oil).
The second day we ate this, we added lightly steamed broccoli to the mix of vegetables.
For the Kale Chickpea Pesto
1 clove garlic
1 bunch kale, chopped
1 cup cooked chickpeas (a can is fine, you’ll have some leftover)
½ teaspoon lemon zest
juice from half a lemon (about 2 tablespoons)
¼-½ cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
For the Pasta
green tea soba or any other pasta you prefer
bunch of asparagus, washed and trimmed, and gently sauteed
1 cup peas (frozen ok, too), dropped into boiling water for about 30 seconds
basically, any other vegetable you want
For the Kale Chickpea Pesto
Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Pour in the chopped kale. When the water comes back up to a boil (probably less than 30 seconds), drain the kale and rinse with very cold water.
Pulse garlic in food processor until chopped. You may have to stop the food processor and push the little garlic bits down the sides.
Add kale and chickpeas to food processor and pulse until chopped. Add lemon zest and lemon juice and pulse until chopped. With the food processor running, very slowly drizzle in olive oil until everything in the processor is the consistency of a pesto. You may need more or less of the olive oil depending on how many/how big your broccoli pieces are.
Season with 1 teaspoon salt to start and a few hard turns on a fresh black pepper mill. Adjust according to your taste. Remember that this is a pesto and should be strong and salty, since you will be mixing into pasta, grains, etc. We thinned out the pesto with a tiny bit more olive oil.
Cook soba or pasta. Drain. In a large bowl, combine with vegetables and about half the pesto. Add more pesto as needed.
To make a pretty nest of pasta, use a large fork and “twirl” pasta onto the fork from the large bowl. Gently slide off fork into serving bowl. You will probably have to add asparagus and peas to the nests after.
Of course, you can just toss a heaping forkful of the pasta into a bowl like we did with the broccoli on the second day.
The rest of the pesto will keep in the fridge, covered, for about a day.
Microsoft Office is sponsoring this series of TasteSpotting features: Oysters with Pomegranate Mignonette, Guinness Stew and an Irish menu, Roast Chicken with Mushroom Marsala Pan Sauce, and this one.