LAKE MACBRIDE— Jaime Oliver and Gennaro Contaldo taught me to make pasta without tomato sauce. The two television chefs went searching around London for wild rocket, brought it to Oliver’s kitchen, and made a simple pasta dish with it. That local greens could be the beginning of a pasta dish was a new idea I am adopting into my cooking.
We have an abundance of baby bok choy from the CSA and a large bag of leaves separated from the stems was the starting point for last night’s dinner.
Ingredients: a bread bag of roughly chopped baby bok choy leaves, three full heads of garlic peeled and sliced thinly, bits and pieces of aromatic vegetables leftover from salad making (carrot and bell pepper), a cup of grated Parmesan cheese, a half pint of last summer’s pesto thawed from the freezer, a roughly chopped large onion, and salt and pepper to taste.
Process: Bring a pot of water to boil for the farfalle. While the water is heating, perform the chopping work: rough chop a large onion, dice the carrot and bell pepper, rough chop the greens and peel and slice the garlic heads. This is a lot of garlic, and our kitchen has two dozen from last year needing to be used up before the spring garlic comes in.
In a large frying pan sauté the onions and carrots in olive oil. Add salt. Add the bell pepper next and when the onions begin to soften, add the sliced garlic, stirring to prevent the garlic from burning. Once everything is soft, add the baby bok choy leaves, turn down the heat and cover to let them wilt. Take the pan off the heat and let it rest until the pasta is done.
Drain the farfalle and put it in a large bowl. Add the cooked greens mixture, half a pint of pesto and a cup of grated Parmesan cheese. Mix gently with a spoon and serve, adding freshly ground pepper on top, and salt to taste.
Notes: The greens mixture is a form of mirepoix, and my ingredients were chosen because they were on hand: the operative principle in this local food dish. Farfalle is used because of the broad surfaces for the sauce to adhere. Most other forms of dried pasta would work well. Last summer I made and froze three different kinds of pesto based on what was coming from my garden. Any pesto would be fine in this dish. Other ingredients to consider would be pine nuts, fresh herbs, leeks or shallots.