The first time I went to the Trinity Bellwoods Organic Farmers’ Market, their first time open for the season, there were about 5 scraggly stalls selling bits and bobs of grown greens and a bread maker with flour still under her nails selling a few loaves here and a biscuit there. Probably just enough to satisfy the crowd of about 10 people strolling from one table to another, taking their time squeezing the marrows, sniffing the small, sweet strawberries.
This week there was a buzz in the air as middle aged matrons bustled and elbowed their way to the front of the queue in a craze of fear of missing the best tomatoes to that woman with the straw hat, or not getting to the baker’s table in time to get a hot spelt and hemp loaf. Canadian politesse and reserved respect for other human beings’ right to exist only just managed to thinly veil the boiling of blood and the animalistic focusing of attentions on each one’s spotted prize. Twice I was thwarted of the exact tomato, deep red and orange, I’d had my eye on while seemingly patiently waiting for the farmer to serve me my turn.
At the breathless end I had a bag full of goodies ready to turn into a feast for two. And what better way to serve up the freshest of Summer produce than simply and unfussily with a bit of pasta. Time consuming stews and soups and long cooking pies and roasts will have their turn in the months to come, but the freshest ingredients, pulled from the garden that very morning, need only the slightest, lightest bit of help and a good wine to go with it.
Fresh Summer Pasta
1 Tbsp veg oil, like Canola
1 white onion, finely chopped
1 shallot, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup Shitake mushrooms, halved (or quartered if very large)
bunch fresh Italian parsley, finely chopped (to make about ¼ cup) – put about 1tbsp aside for final garnish
3 Tbsp fresh Origano, finely chopped
a dozen or so green asparagus, chopped into 2″ lengths
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
60 ml extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
Penne, enough for 2
– cook the penne until el dente
– while pasta is cooking, heat canola in large sauce pan or frying pan on a meduim heat (not hot). Saute garlic, onions, mushrooms and about half the herbs. Season while cooking as this is when the mushrooms will absorb the flavours of the herbs and salt and pepper best.
– when mushrooms are soft add the asparagus and cook for just a few minutes until asparagus softens slightly and is bright green.
– when pasta is done, rinse under the tap and add to mushroom and asparagus. Add rest of herbs, cherry tomatoes and olive oil. Stir to mix and remove from heat so as not to cook the tomatoes or the oil.
– serve and garnish with Parmigiano, parsley and black pepper