I’ll admit it. I’m desperate. It’s been a brutal winter and I’m desperate for signs of Spring. Any sign at all. Where are the bursts of bright yellow forsythia and the surprise of purple crocuses? Where are the tiny red buds emerging on the barren branches of grey tree limbs? Why is my grass still grayish brown? Why do I smell rotting leaves but not rich brown earth redolent with the refreshing scent of new growth?
And why the hell are there still islands of ice and snow in my backyard?
Time is not moving fast enough for me during this transition from an epically bad winter to, hmmm, whatever comes next. These days, who knows?
Here is what I am certain about. Spring has arrived at the Brookline Winter Farmers Market. The colors, the smells, the joy. Yep. It’s all there. And so is dinner. A quick stop in to say hello offers a couple of things I haven’t seen for at the market in months: smiles on the faces of the farmers and a bounty of spring greens and veggies.
Finally, after months of stoicism, my cold, cold heart begins to melt.
Spring Pasta with Blue Oyster Mushrooms, Sweet Peas, and Pea Tendrils
- 1 lb. blue oyster mushrooms, cleaned and cut into large pieces
- 1 lb. sweet peas
- 1 cup pea tendrils
- 1 shallot, finely chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- pinch of red pepper flakes
- 2 tsp. lemon juice
- 1/2 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
- 1/2 cup sheep’s milk feta cheese, cut into 1/2″ cubes
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1 lb. torchio, or other broad-shaped dried pasta
- salt and black pepper to taste
- Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil.
- When it reaches a boil, add the peas and bring to a simmer for 4-5 minutes or until the peas are soft to the bite. Drain and reserve.
- Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over high heat.
- Add the garlic, shallot, and red pepper flakes and sauté until the garlic is just browning and the shallot is becoming translucent.
- Add the oyster mushrooms and reduce the heat. Stir to mix and coat the mushrooms completely. Continue to simmer.
- Add the pea tendrils.
- Add the peas.
- Simmer mixture on low heat until you are ready to add the pasta water in the steps below.
- Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil for the pasta.
- Salt the water, add pasta and boil the pasta until just al dente. Do not overcook.
- Reserve 1 cup of cooking liquid (pasta water) in a heat-resistant container.
- Drain pasta and reserve.
- Return to the skillet, increase the heat to high and add 1/2 cup of pasta water to the skillet and bring to a simmer.
- Add pasta to the skillet, or, if the skillet is too small, add the contents of the skillet and the pasta to the pasta pan over low heat.
- Stir to combine.
- Add lemon, parsley, and feta. Stir to combine, and allow feta to melt.
- Add more cooking liquid if the pasta looks too dry.
- Salt and black pepper to taste.
- Serve immediately.