Ramp, mushroom, asparagus, and preserved lemon linguine


 
The perfect spring pasta - ramp, mushroom, asparagus, and preserved lemon linguine
The perfect spring pasta - ramp, mushroom, asparagus, and preserved lemon linguine
The perfect spring pasta - ramp, mushroom, asparagus, and preserved lemon linguine
The perfect spring pasta - ramp, mushroom, asparagus, and preserved lemon linguine
The perfect spring pasta - ramp, mushroom, asparagus, and preserved lemon linguine
The perfect spring pasta - ramp, mushroom, asparagus, and preserved lemon linguine
The perfect spring pasta - ramp, mushroom, asparagus, and preserved lemon linguine

I often find myself standing in the kitchen at dinner preparation time, totally unmotivated and underwhelmed. I make food, write about food, photograph food and eat food for a good part of the day, so by the time it gets to dinner, I often can't be bothered to make anything. It is for this reason that I like to have a solid repertoire of recipes up my sleeve that come together quickly, don't require a special trip to the supermarket, and give us a nice little variety. We often have things such as home-made pizza, slow-cooked chilli, or a quick pasta thrown together with ingredients from the fridge. I usually have a fairly diverse range of vegetables on hand, so can usually throw something together. Sometimes the end result is questionable, but we get there in the end.

Everyone seems to be clinging on to spring at the moment here in the city. The greenmarket is the most amazing place to go - I often find myself on a manhattan bound train after my spin class in the mornings, taking me to the market instead of home. The early morning is the best time to go, as you get the first pickings of the produce, get time to chat with the farmers, and it's also the time when the chefs come in to pick up produce for their restaurants. I love watching them select vegetables, and always sneakily take note of the things that they go for first. 

One of my favourite things to do is to pick up a bunch of things that are in season, come home with them, and cook dinner on the fly. During the winter it was mainly root vegetables and pumpkin, meaning that we had loads of soup, gnocchi, pizzas, and rich meat-based pasta sauces. Spring vegetables have been slowly sneaking their way into the market - ramps, asparagus, spring garlic, oyster mushrooms. These all came home with me and made their way into a pasta dish with some white wine, quality parmesan, pasta water (fave ever), and finished off with some preserved lemon to add a little brightness. This dish took me about 20 minutes from start to finish - while the water is boiling you chop everything up, and fry it all off while the pasta is cooking. The skillet is deglazed quickly with some white wine, then the pasta is added along with some pasta water and parmesan. A quick toss and season and you are good to go. Wham, bam, thank you mam. Dinner on the table. Or in our case, collapsed on the couch with a terrible TV show in front of us.

A few wee notes:

  • Don't be put off by the name! You can fill this pasta dish with anything you have on hand - the majority of the base ingredients here are interchangeable. Sub ramps for shallots, spring garlic for a few cloves of regular garlic, oyster mushrooms for any other variety, and preserved lemon for a finely grated lemon zest. I make this very often and just sub in whatever I have on hand.
  • Make sure that you reserve the water from the pasta - you can transfer the pasta to the skillet using tongs, as you don't have to worry too much about draining it as the water ends up in there anyway.
  • Ensure you taste along the way - if you aren't using preserved lemon you will need to up the salt content a little. Make sure that you salt in levels rather than all at once at the end, as it helps give the dish a bigger depth of flavour. I love to finish dishes with a flaky sea salt such as maldon.
  • I used wholegrain linguine, but this will work with most types of pasta. Just make sure that you give the sauce a little time to emulsify at the end and coat everything nicely.
  • Adjust the amount of pasta depending on your serving size - for two people I usually use a small handful of linguine - the circumference is about the size of the circle that is made when I touch my thumb and pointer finger together. 
 

 

Ramp, mushroom, asparagus, and preserved lemon linguine
- Serves 2 -

100-150g (depending on serving size) wholegrain linguine or other pasta
3 ramps, stems and leaves, finely chopped (alternatively use 2 shallots)
2 stems of spring garlic, white and light green sections only, finely chopped (or use two garlic cloves, finely chopped)
150g oyster mushrooms, or any other mushroom of your preference
250g fresh asparagus, trimmed and cleaned, chopped into 2" pieces (if it is not asparagus season, use broccoli, chopped into small florets, and add alongside the mushrooms)
Rind of half a preserved lemon, finely chopped, plus a few slices to garnish, or the zest of one lemon
1/3 cup (80ml) white wine
1/2 cup finely grated good quality parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper to season

- PROCESS -

Bring a large pot of well-salted water to boil. While the water is coming to the boil, chop the vegetables. Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook according to the packet until al dente.

Heat a skillet or frying pan over high heat. Fry the ramps and garlic, along with a big pinch of salt, in a little olive oil. Fry for 2-3 minutes. Add the chopped mushrooms and fry for another 2 minutes, adding a little more oil if necessary. Add the preserved lemon, cook for 30 seconds or so, then add the asparagus and cook for a further 30 seconds, until the asparagus is bright green. Deglaze the pan with the white wine, and cook for 1-2 minutes until the wine has begun to evaporate.

Transfer the cooked pasta to the skillet using tongs. Add the cheese and 1/2 cup of the pasta water. Toss well using the tongs, until the 'sauce' emulsifies and coats the pasta. Continue adding pasta water as needed to help loosen. 

Pile the pasta onto serving dishes, season with flaky sea salt and freshly ground pepper, and place a few slices of the preserved lemon on top. 

The perfect spring pasta - ramp, mushroom, asparagus, and preserved lemon linguine

Cheeseboard with zucchini relish


 
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It's happened. It almost happened overnight. New York has become a smelly, sweaty puddle of angry people, AKA summer. Yesterday I was wearing leggings and a long top (as per usual - I look like I have been dragged through a bush 90% of the time), and today I am all of the sweaty. So gross. I closed the windows and snuck the aircon on today 'for the kittens', because mama cat gets too hot and crazy stressed as soon as I even think about turning on the oven, so I gotta keep it pleasant for her. That's what i'm saying anyway. The kittens are suddenly almost 6 weeks, and have grown up so fast from teeny little squirmy sausages to the cutest things IN THE WORLD. I am low key obsessed with them, and I am already scared about saying goodbye to them. Does anyone want to adopt them? Ideally you will be ok with me coming around every day to snuggle them. I'll bring treats. I promise! 

One of the only good things about this gross hot weather, aside from day drinking and excessive amounts of rosé, is cheese boards! Actually, that is a lie, cheese boards are amazing all year round, but there is something about sitting outside with friends and having an epic cheese board! 

I usually have at least 5 types of cheese in my fridge at any given time, because I am often hungry when I go to whole foods and therefore have zero control, which results in excessive cheese purchasing. The number of cheese I have at any given time has only increased since I started spending time with my New York Mum, who is the cheese wizard. Every time I go around to her house I try a new crazy sort of cheese that she has, get addicted to it, and have to immediately make a special trip just to buy it. We went on a little adventure yesterday and ended up at a whole foods, where I got even more types to try! The best. 

I tend to just throw whatever I have in the fridge on the board. I usually try to go for something soft, something harder, something interesting, and something goaty, and then just some interesting add-ons, something sweet, and some sort of relish. This time I went with a cumin seed gouda, a marinated sheep and goat feta that I am OBSESSED WITH and you must try immediately, and a Vermont Creamery Coupole. I had plans to also pop on a bit of sharp cheddar, but I think I got hungry and carried away, and found it on the bench after the shoot. I also added some almonds for a bit of texture, a really nice salami, and some preserved lemons, because they go on / in everything these days since I made a giant jar a few months ago. Then there was a little brick of home-made quince paste, which I inadvertently made a GIANT TRAY of back in quince season (will share the recipe this season), so we are still working our way though it 6 months later. Luckily it keeps well. I finished the board off with some crackers, a little fresh mint, and a home-made zucchini relish, which has become a total fave in our house! 

The relish is a cheese board game changer.  When we have guests round for dinner (which is usually 2-3 times a week because I much prefer having people round than going out), I plonk whatever cheese I have in the fridge on a board, and pop a jar of the relish next to it, so everyone can just make their own snacks. The relish is a lovely combination of sweet and tart, and is crazy easy to make. I always, always get asked for the recipe, so figured I would finally pop it up here! Provided you grate and sweat the zucchini and onion ahead of time, the actual cooking process is only about 20 minutes, and is super easy to scale if you were wanting to make a bigger batch. It's also great on sandwiches, sausages, scones, stirred into quiche, anything that needs a little lift in flavour. 

A few wee notes:

  • If you are planning to store this, make sure that you have sterilised jars. I tend to use pint-sized mason jars, and I give the glass jars 15-20 minutes in the oven to kill any bugs. Make sure that you always use new lids - these can be bought separately
  • Use a larger pot than you think you will need - this has turmeric in it, so splashes can stain easily. I like to also use plastic or metal utensils rather than wood to avoid turning them yellow.
  • Provided you get a good seal on your jars, this can be kept at room temperature until you are ready to use it. Once it is open, store it in the fridge. 

 

 

 

Zucchini Relish
- Makes enough for 3 pint jars-

1 kg (2.2 lbs) Zucchini, washed and grated
2 medium brown onions, peeled and diced finely
approx 1/3 cup salt (To sweat the zucchini and onions. I used Kosher salt)
3 cups (600g) white sugar
2 cups (480ml), white vinegar, plus a little extra to make a paste with the flour
4 tsp mustard seeds, or 5 tsp mustard powder
2 tsp celery seed or celery salt
3 tsp turmeric powder
3 Tbsp flour
approx 1/3 cup salt (I used Kosher salt)

- PROCESS -

Wash and grate the zucchini. Place into a large bowl. Add the finely diced onions. Salt heavily, and stir well to combine. Leave for at least 2 hours to allow the zucchini and onion to sweat.

In a large pot, combine the sugar, vinegar, mustard seeds, celery seeds and turmeric. Bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

Drain and rinse the zucchini and onion, squeezing out any excess moisture. Add to the pot and cook for 10 minutes, stirring to ensure it does not catch. 

Mix the flour with a little vinegar to make a smooth runny paste. Add to the pot, and cook until the relish thickens slightly. 

Pour into sterilised jars, and screw on lids tightly. Allow to cool completely before using. Store in the fridge once open.

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