Thursday, May 7, 2009

spring aint so bad

spring is not my favorite season.  maybe it's because june, july and august are always the best months for students and teachers.  maybe it's because i love fruit and can't wait to eat all the sweet melons, berries and stone fruits that are available.  maybe it's because if i had to choose, i would rather be too hot than too cold.  maybe it's a combination of a few different reasons, but the fact is....i love summer.  

spring is ok.  my birthday is in the spring.  the weather is mild.  but really, spring just makes me look forward to summer.  

this year, a poem and a picture really touched me.  deep breath.  i started to notice lovely blossoms on trees that had previously been naked.  spring IS a new beginning.    and that's always a beautiful thing.  
i know what fruits and vegetables are in season in the spring, but they hadn't really inspired me....until i decided to give spring a chance.  i went to the farmer's market on a saturday.  

there are a few reasons why i go to the farmer's market:
1. it's fun.
2.  seasonal and local food tastes better.
3.  it's a good place to learn about food.
4.  you can taste before you buy.
5.  it's cheap.

i had a taste for a fresh, simple pasta dish that would celebrate spring.  this was on my mind as i walked through the market.  first, i saw green garlic.  i've read that green garlic has a different flavor than regular garlic - more mild and gentle.  i had never cooked green garlic before so i decided to buy a bunch ($1).  next, i picked up some carrots to add some sweetness and color ($1).  these were actual baby carrots - not the packaged nubs that are cut from large carrots.  the crooked orange fingers beckoned to me.  i noticed a type of basil ($1) i had never seen before.  the aroma was familiar, but the leaves were on a very long stem - about a foot long.  i forgot to ask what kind of basil it is.  does anyone know?

i thought it was too early for tomatoes, but one farmer was selling some.  i slipped a strawberry tomato in my mouth and closed my eyes.  it tasted like summer!  these will make a nice addition to my pasta.  i put about 1/2 pound ($2) in my bag.  the asparagus was the most expensive thing i bought that day.  after looking at all the different types, i decided to buy the skinny ones ($3.50) because they were roughly the same size as the carrots.  all of this fresh, beautiful produce would only cost me $7.50.  

i channeled my inner alice waters and decided to make a very simple dish.  i wanted the vegetables to speak for themselves.  it was my first time working with green garlic so i didn't expect it to make my eyes onions.  watch out.  you've been warned.  

you all know i learned how to cook without using recipes.  this is just a general guideline so you can make your own pasta dish, depending on what you find at your market.  just make sure all of your vegetables are sliced before you begin.  the cooking goes pretty fast, and you don't want the veggies to get mushy while you're slicing and dicing.  

the tomatoes released their juices and combined with the wine to make a silky sauce that enrobed the pasta.  delicate is the perfect word to describe green garlic.  the taste definitely reminded me of garlic, but this was much more subtle.  i need to work on my knife skills, because this dish didn't exactly look attractive.  but it sure was tasty!  my restraint paid off in the end, and i got exactly what i was looking for:

spring on a plate

olive oil
green garlic, thinly sliced
skinny carrots, sliced diagonally
skinny asparagus, sliced diagonally
salt and pepper
white wine
tomatoes, diced
basil leaves, torn

heat oil in a pan. add green garlic and saute for a minute.  add carrots and saute for a minute.  add asparagus then a few glugs of white wine.  add salt and pepper to taste and simmer for a few minutes.  add tomatoes and basil and allow to heat through for a minute.  serve over any kind of long pasta, cooked al dente.


  1. Oh, we love Spring! The fruits and veggies are oh so good. Like in this dish. But what in the world is green garlic??? Intrigued!

  2. the first picture is green garlic. it's basically just baby's just harvested before the whole bulb is formed. let me know if you try it!

  3. Wow, those tomatoes look mighty fine for so early in the season. You're lucky to have spotted them.

  4. Hi! I linked your blog from your FoodBuzz profile. To answer your question about the basil. I don't think that it's basil at all. It's sort of hard for me to tell because I can't see the leaves close enough. If I am correct if you taste it raw, it should taste peppery with hints of lemon. It's sometimes called Vietnamese Mint. You can use it in dishes like Banh Cheo (I just ate Banh Cheo yesterday), you could also use it in spring rolls.

    I've never been to Farmer's market in Oakland before, it is that cheap?

  5. hey foodgal, you're right. i was very lucky!

    hey leng, yes, it's really that cheap. you should go check out the market sometime. the basil actually smelled and tasted like the short variety i'm used to. it was just on a long stalk (stem?). if i see it again at the market, i'll ask the farmer and i'll let you know.

  6. Yeah I should really check it out. I think I went a long time ago, but don't remember.