Fettuccini with The Whole Damn Garden

#RecipeUpTop (details below):

For the base:

  • 2 tomatoes;
  • 2 bell peppers (either red, yellow, or a combination);
  • 4 cloves garlic;
  • 2oz tin of anchovies in oil;
  • 1 TBS olive oil

For the flair:

  • Green garden veg of choice (e.g. sugar snap peas, green beans, broccoli florets, pea shoots, etc.)
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts;
  • High-quality parmesan (optional);
  • Red Pepper Flake (optional);
  • Fresh basil or parsley (optional);

For the pasta:

  • 3 large eggs;
  • 225g ap flour;
  • 5g salt;

Method: Add the anchovies WITH their oil to a large saucepot, plus the extra olive oil and simmer until the anchovies are disintegrated. Mince garlic, dice peppers, and seed then dice tomatoes, and add to the oil. Simmer over low heat until the moisture has left the fresh veg and cooked out of the pot. Then, add garden veg, kill heat, and cover.

Prepare pasta, boil, and drain. Re-fire veg mixture until garden veg is cooked but still firm. Toss with pasta, and garnish with toasted pine nuts, fresh basil or parsley, red pepper flake, and fine parmesan.

The Details

I spent all day in the garden. The last days of spring are here, and the prep for summer growing season is in full swing, which means dirty hands, sunburnt shoulders, and a deep and undeniable hunger for fresh vegetables.

Also, it’s Monday, and following a weekend of… revelry, a body screams for nutrients. But also pasta. Mostly pasta.

This dish is more like stir-fry than pasta primavera, and frankly I think that’s a good thing. Seriously, think of the worst pasta dish you’ve ever been served, and let me know if it wasn’t someone’s half-assed primavera.

Anyway, this recipe steamrolls over a lot of the common pitfalls of PV (undercooked vegetables; bland pasta; carrots for some reason; etc.), and instead offers a fantastic bowl of comfort, flavor, and Good Things from the Garden.

Oh, and it’s designed to be adapted to whatever you have on hand, or ready to be harvested, so there’s that, too. Let’s cook!

Step one: don’t freak out about the anchovies.

Okay, let’s get this over with. I KNOW this is a big hurdle for a lot folks, but you’re just going to have to trust me on this. I wouldn’t put raw wood chunks in my final bbq, but I also wouldn’t smoke a pork butt without them. You just have to use them the right way.

What I’m getting at is this tin of salted fish will be so transformed by the end of this dish as to be unrecognizable, but it’s ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY. It just is. And you’ll be a better cook for it.

So, pull the pin, and get them in the pot with the extra olive oil over low heat. They’ll disintegrate into a sort of dirty-looking oil pretty quickly, and that’s what we want. Kill the heat and prep your veg:

So this is the base of our “sauce,” and since I’ve said that word we probably need to talk about what we’re doing here. The end goal is to have a flavor-bomb oil that has leached all the goodness from this base, which we’ll then use to cook our garden bounty.

So, everyone in the pool, keep it low, and cook COVERED until the moisture has left the veg and also cooked out of the base.

Start!
Finish

This is it, the 7th infinity stone: flavor. You control it, so let’s not be reckless.

Step two: add the garden components. Today, we’re using green beans.

I just lopped them down into thirds as is my preference, but you can cut them however you’d like for the final product. Into the pot, cook until ALSMOT done, kill the heat, cover it, and let it sit while you make pasta.

Oh, yeah, pasta. You know how to do this. But quick refresher: eggs kneaded with flour, let sit for half an hour, then roll and cut, and get them in a lot of boiling water:

NOTE: this recipe plays well with all kinds of pasta, and even rice if you’re pressing me about it. If you want to use box penne, that’s a great choice, as is rotini, and really whatever you want. Bottom line, make sure you don’t overcook your noodles. Get them drained and hanging out. If you want to toss them in a little olive oil to prevent sticking, that’s fine, just go easy because we want our sauce to cling.

Step three: the flair. In a few moments, we’ll toss the pasta with our veg mixture, but before we do, we should have the final show ready to pop off. That means chopping your basil or parsley, grinding your parmesan, and toasting your pine nuts.

And there’s a secret to this last one:

Get the pine nuts in a NON-GREASED pan (I’m using cast iron). So, pine nuts are absolutely full of oil, which is why they spoil quickly and also why they make such fantastic pesto. But, it also means they will immolate themselves in an instant if given the chance, so GO SLOW. The oil will heat, render and release, then gently toast the nut.

Keep them moving once you smell popcorn, until they’re nicely toasted. Remove from heat, and we’re ready for final assembly.

Toss the pasta with the sauce, plate, and garnish with your toasted pine nuts, good parm, red pepper flake, and fresh basil or parsley.

Quick note about the pepper flake: DO NOT add it at the front end of cooking the sauce, or you’ll end up with chili oil. Great for some stuff, not for eating a whole serving of pasta. Adding it at the end keeps it punchy and up front, without nuking the dish from orbit. Just saying.

And that’s it. Bug bites and and scraped knees and a whole bowl of why we do it.

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