If you’ve been following for the last week or so, you know my regularly-scheduled blog posts have been preempted for a this series of recipes and how-to tips on eating as local as possible for an entire weekend vacation from a cooler and one tote. Our Weekend Cooler Challenge continues with this mouth-watering recipe from guest blogger Gaylin at More Than Just the Food (her text is in black):
Squid Ink Pasta with Fresh Spring Veggies
I’ll confess that the idea for this recipe came from a few wrinkly carrots that had seen better days. I hadn’t used them last season before they started to wilt, so I shredded them at that time and soaked them in water until they gained a bit of life. Firmer, I drained out all but enough water in them to barely cover them in a freezer bag. Sealed and laid flat on a cookie sheet, they froze up nicely until I figured out what to do with them.
When it came time to make this dish, started some lion’s mane mushrooms covered and soaking in the hottest water that comes from my tap. The night before, I’d set the carrots in the fridge to defrost, along with a cup of frozen peas that we’d blanched and somehow not finished. On cooking day, these got set aside to drain while I was boiling the water for the pasta. This is the water I’d saved from making the gnocchi, and since it was already hot, it came back to a boil very quickly even after I added a bit more water to the appropriate level for boiling pasta noodles.
The noodles themselves were an impulse buy that The Big Guy bought at one point on an unsupervised trip to the grocery for beer. What he came back with was a lovely squid ink fettuccine, made by a pasta producer not terribly far away from our home, one I’d not heard of before, Al Dente Inc. (http://www.aldentepasta.com/) of Whitmore Lake, Michigan.
As with the gnocchi, the freshness of this pasta made it cook very quickly. Once at the boil, I added pasta and cooked it for exactly three minutes, tossed in about a cup of the peas that had defrosted overnight, cooked for one minute more, and then drained everything (again saving the water). To stop the cooking, I ran cold water over the noodles and peas, drained them completely, and poured them into my largest mixing bowl. I added the defrosted and pre-shredded carrots to the bowl and then set this aside.
In my largest frying pan again over medium low heat, I added about a tablespoon of oil and 1 cup of chopped leeks (whites and light green only). These cooked until they were softened. As a few of the edges started to turn golden, I added the mushrooms that I’d soaked overnight after I’d squeezed them and chopped them. These got cooked up until the last of their moisture was gone and they too started to crisp lightly around the edges (it didn’t take long, mere minutes). I set these aside to cool completely.
While everything was cooling, I mixed up a quick, lemony yogurt dressing. It took about 1/3 of a cup of the yogurt I had left in the fridge, 3 teaspoons of olive oil, several tablespoons of lemon juice, salt, pepper, fresh tarragon and chives from my garden, and about 1/2 teaspoon of Charley’s Ballpark Mustard, the last of the container. Charley’s is a wonderful local mustard maker that’s a mainstay among Detroit Tigers baseball fans. It was one of the first mustards available locally that I could find and I keep going back to it, even though I’m perfectly capable of making it on my own. We’re growing our own mustard this year to make some of our own gourmet mustards because there’s just no one doing it locally that we can find (well, that and we just want to make our own mustards!).
Dressing, noodles, and veggies all got tossed together and placed in the fridge to mellow. It really does improve overnight in my experience. And no, the pasta doesn’t taste like squid.
The weekend food journey continues through this week, with a final round-up o the experience Friday. And, if you live in MI and love gnocchi, here’s where Gaylin got it (I’ve also linked it on the gnocchi recipe itself, along with their Facebook page)!