For some reason this winter seems to have dragged on longer than usual. Perhaps it is the unusual number of rainy days, or the dearth of warm sunny ones, but I feel like winter has been hard to shake. I know that in a few weeks it will be blazing hot and the humidity will have me wilting, but right now I am really craving some warm spring days.
At least spring has come to the farmer's market. Among our favorite treats in early spring are pea shoots. These are actually the vines of young peas. They are delicate, with the sweet, green flavor of young peas, but crunchier. And they have these fabulous little curly tendrils that are almost too cute to eat. We picked these up from Calvert's Gift Farm, one of our favorite stands at the Takoma Park farmer's market, but I'm sure you can find them at many markets this time of year.
In my attempts, though, I have not been satisfied with the texture. At first, I was cooking the pea shoots, but, even if I cooked them only briefly, they would end up in a tangled clump that was hard to distribute over the pasta. They are so delicate that they are delicious raw, so this time I left them raw, topped the pasta with them, and we mixed them in bite by bite as we ate.
I thought the children might balk at the pile of greens on top of their pasta, but they all loved them. Chloe even picked out the pea shoots and left the pasta!
Pea Shoot Pasta with Lemon Cream Sauce
10 minutes preparation time
20 minutes cooking time
1 pound spaghetti or linguine
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons unbleached wheat flour
1 cup pasta water
juice and zest of 1 lemon
1/4 cup cream
1 teaspoon salt
a few grinds fresh pepper
approximately 8 cups pea shoots, chopped coarsely
Put a large pot of water to boil. When the water boils, add a generous amount of salt and then add the pasta. Cook for 1 minute less than the time given on the box.
Meanwhile, make the lemon-cream sauce. Melt the butter in a large skillet and when it begins to foam, whisk in the flour. Whisk until the flour is completely incorporated. Scoop a cup of water out of the pasta pot and add it and the lemon juice to the flour mixture. Bring the mixture to a boil, whisking. Reduce the heat and simmer until the sauce thickens, about 5 minutes. Stir in the lemon zest, cream, salt, and pepper.
When the pasta has finished cooking, drain it in a collander and then briefly toss it in the cream sauce. Scoop some pasta onto each plate and mound the pea shoots on top. Serve immediately.