Signs of Spring Recipes

Though our days continue to be drippy, the gardens are finally beginning to show signs of new life as the first of the shelling peas, mint and microgreens are now gracing us with their presence. Thus, spring fare takes center stage in this week’s box, too, with fresh semolina pasta, pain au levain bread and locally-crafted sharp cheddar cheese all helping to accent a bevy of produce that includes red cabbage rapini, romanesco and baby Japanese turnips. Crack open a bright Spanish white wine, pop a juicy apple cake into the oven and enjoy the first taste of the season!

Here are a few recipe ideas for the week:

Gemelli Pasta with Shelled Peas, Lemon & Mint
Adapted from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, this light and lovely pasta recipe sings of spring.

Chilled Pea Soup
Cooking the peas briefly retains their vibrant color, while the addition of fresh herbs keeps the finished soup tasting bright.

Shelled Pea Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette
This bright salad is beautifully balanced by fresh mint and Marcona almonds.

Butter-Braised Turnips with Greens & Baby Shiitake Mushrooms
Simmered in rich chicken stock, this dish is finished with lemon juice and thyme for fresh appeal.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Buttered Breadcrumbs
Topped with buttery, golden brown breadcrumbs, these Brussels sprouts are the epitome of comfort food.

Arugula Pesto
This bright, flavorful pesto is wonderful drizzled over this week’s chilled pea soup or pea and mint pasta main!

F&L Apple Cake
Moist and incredibly flavorful, this cake comes together in just minutes!

Gemelli Pasta with Shelled Peas, Lemon & Mint

Adapted from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, this light and lovely pasta recipe sings of spring.

Ingredients:
1 pound fresh gemelli pasta
2 cups fresh shelled peas (from about 1 lb. in the pod)
1 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
Zest of 1 lemon
1 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
4 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
4 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper

Method:
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add the pasta, and cook according to package instructions. Add peas to cook during the last 30 seconds of pasta cooking time. Reserve ½ cup cooking water, set aside. Drain the pasta and the peas together.

2. Dry out the pasta pot, and pour in the heavy cream. Bring the cream to a simmer, and cook until slightly reduced, about 4 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the butter, and stir it until it has melted. Generously season the sauce with black pepper, add a pinch of salt as well as the lemon zest. Add ¾ cup Parmesan, and stir it until the sauce is smooth; then toss in the drained pasta & peas.

3. Cook the pasta in the sauce for 2 minutes, until the sauce has slightly thickened. Add the reserved pasta water by the spoonful if needed to loosen up the sauce. Garnish with remaining Parmesan, chopped parsley and mint and serve immediately.

Chilled Pea Soup

Cooking the peas briefly retains their vibrant color, while the addition of fresh herbs keeps the finished soup tasting bright.

Ingredients:
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth, divided
6 cups shelled fresh peas
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 sweet onion, chopped
¼ cup fresh Italian parsley leaves
¼ cup fresh mint leaves
¼ cup crème fraîche or sour cream
2 tablespoons heavy cream or water
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper
Chopped fresh chives (for serving)

Method:
1. Melt butter in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring often, until softened but not browned, 6-8 minutes. Add 2 cups broth and bring to a boil. Add peas, reduce heat, and simmer gently until tender, about 5 minutes.

2. Remove pot from heat. Add parsley, mint, and remaining 2 cups broth to pot. Purée soup in a blender or with an immersion blender, thinning with water if soup is too thick, until smooth. Season soup with salt and pepper. Chill until ready to serve.

3. Whisk crème fraîche and cream in a small bowl to blend. Serve chilled soup topped with chives, passing crème fraîche mixture alongside for spooning over.

Dig Into Spring

Although winter continues to make its presence felt on its way out the door, the transition to spring has indeed begun here at Bella Luna Farms: The witch hazel trees are in bloom, the animals are starting to venture out into their outdoor paddocks and the sweet little crocuses and daffodils are peeping up out of the soil. After months of squirreling away seeds in anticipation of the last thaw, these signs encourage us that it’s finally time to roll up our sleeves and get our hands back into the soil.

Thus, the pace has picked up in the gardens as the plots begin to awaken from their winter slumber: Those aforementioned seeds are going in the ground and the new lettuce and kale starts have already taken root, as have the onion sets and leeks. Later into the spring the spring peas will be planted and we will begin harvesting our second crops of flavorful spring greens from the hoop house. Soon, if it is warm enough for new growth, we should also see the first signs of watercress and perhaps even begin scouting for young rhubarb!

Here at the farm, we often enjoy an extra early crop of those bright pink beauties as we grow our rhubarb starts under forcing jars. This technique, in which the rhubarb is grown in darkness under the warm cover of a bell-shaped pot, produces pale, smooth stalks that are less bitter than their later-season counterparts; these are excellent in jams, jellies, breads, cakes and more. We’re already salivating over utilizing our first harvest in such as favorite recipes as red-wine poached or roasted rhubarb—and really, nothing will mark the true beginning of spring quite like the smell of our first rhubarb crisp baking away in the farmhouse kitchen.

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