Fresh and bright, these early summer flavors combine for a satisfying bowl of pasta that pleases the whole family.
You never know what you are going to find at the farmers market this time of year, but whatever you find, you can spin some magic and come up with something delicious for supper, often using pasta as the base.
This is my farmers market creation for the week, next week, it will be something totally different. I harvested both native winecap and oyster mushrooms from my farmer mushroom connection at the market, and another farmer provided a little more green to the dish in the form of freshly picked arugula. A third had beautiful garlic scapes just begging to be tamed and used.
Tamed, because they are among the funniest looking of vegetables –– the contorted stems and immature flower buds of the garlic plant. They are harvested so that the plant can put its energy into producing nice, plump bulbs of garlic instead of flowering and going to seed. Garlic scapes are great sautéed, pickled, or added to soups or stews. You can even turn them into a delicious pesto.
In this dish, I severed the heads of the scapes to sauté separately and saved them to garnish the pasta dish. When sautéed until they color with some blistering brown, they will taste like garlic that is browned to the nutty stage. The rest, I diced up to add with the sweet leek and mushrooms in the base sauté, letting them brown just a bit too.
The oyster mushrooms I pulled apart and cut only to make uniform size. I removed the stems from the large winecaps (which can be fibrous) to save for stock, and sliced up the pretty deep burgundy colored caps. I had a few local shiitake mushrooms in the refrigerator, so I sliced those up as well.
Use whatever mushrooms you like, or can find!
If you don’t have access to these wonderful mushrooms, you can substitute any mushroom you can find at the market, or even use little white button mushrooms.
I used a gluten-free chickpea fusilli pasta, but you can you any type you like, wheat, rice, or corn and in any shape –– shells, penne, farfalle, even gnocchi or macaroni. Use what you like, or what you have.
You can also use just olive oil and omit the butter. And use whatever garnishes you have on hand –– some more Parmesan, a few of the sautéed mushrooms and scapes, pine nuts, parsley, or even flowers from your planters.
The perfect accompaniment to the meal was the lovely rum-and-coke bread I also found at the market. After sampling, both the baker and I agreed we couldn’t taste the rum, but it was delicious anyway!
Mushroom, Leek & Garlic Scape Pasta
1 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 leek, diced
12 garlic scapes, heads reserved, tails diced
4 cups assorted mushrooms, sliced
A few reserved pretty mushrooms for garnish
3 cloves garlic
8 ounces fusilli or other pasta, whole wheat or gluten free
4 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated on microplane
2 cups packed arugula
Zest and juice of one lemon
Garnishes: fresh flowers from the garden, parsley, and the reserved vegetables, toasted pine nuts are nice here too.
Set a large pot of water on to heat in which you will cook the pasta.
In a large skillet, over medium-high heat, melt butter into oil. Add the garlic scape heads and reserved pretty mushrooms and sauté until the scapes start to blister and the mushrooms start to brown. Remove to a plate, cover and set aside.
In the same pan, add the leeks and garlic scape tails, drizzling in a bit more oil if needed. Cook for about five minutes, then add the mushrooms. Keep things moving with a spatula for a few minutes while the vegetables soften, then add the garlic and turn the heat to low.
Once the pasta water is boiling, add a few tbsp. of salt and the pasta. Set the timer for the lowest time indicated on the package, and test. You will want this to be cooked through but still with some “bite” the al dente everyone talks about, because this will continue cooking with everything else in the skillet.
When the pasta is ready, using a spider or slotted spoon, add it to the mushroom mixture. Reserve a cup of your pasta water to thicken into a sauce later.
Add the parmesan and the arugula to the pasta and mix well for a minute or so, until the cheese melts. Add a little pasta water to create a creamy sauce. Start with a a third cup, and add just what you need to blend everything together.
Add the zest and lemon juice, stir, and place in a large bowl.
You can serve this as in, but it is a lovely enhancement to garnish with your reserved scape blossoms and mushrooms, flowers, and some toasted pine nuts, or other favorite nut, if you want some crunch. A few more curls of Parmesan are a nice touch.
The Next Day
If you have any leftover, this dish makes a lovely salad with the addition of a little vinaigrette and something fresh to liven it up: a few chopped radishes, a chopped cucumber, or a handful of cherry tomatoes.
Nutritional information. This is pasta, so even gluten free there are going to be some carbs involved, some of which are offset by fiber. One serving has 440 calories, 7 grams of saturated fat if using the butter (5 if omitting the butter), 49 carbs and 11 g of fiber, for net 38 carbs, 817 mg potassium, 22 g protein, very high calcium, a good source of Vitamin C and iron, and a whole day’s worth of Vitamin A.
© Copyright 2019 – or current year, Dorothy Grover-Read, The New Vintage Kitchen.