A couple of Sundays ago, I went with some friends to Westham Island, just outside of Vancouver. It’s one of my favorite places accessible across a single-vehicle wide wooden bridge and once you’ve crossed over, you’ll find an herb farm, a few few berry u-picks, a couple honey producers and a bird sanctuary. Heck, there’s even a gun club in case you’ve got the itch. By the time we left the island, the trunk was full of potted plants, local raspberries, new potatoes and a huge bag of fresh sweet peas.
After staining my fingers red from dipping into my raspberry stash, I moved onto the main event. Cornelius and I turned up the stereo and got to shucking the pound or so of English sweet peas. We made short work of it, laughing and reminiscing about childhoods spent at kitchen tables doing the same task under the watchful eye of grandmas. Once we were done, I hadn’t really figured out what I wanted to do with the peas, but dinner was calling and pasta primavera seemed like a good idea. Our CSA provided the broccoli and green onions and I spied a container of ricotta in the fridge. Perfect!
I really wanted the sweetness and crunch from the peas to be the standout, so I added them at the very end of cooking because nothing beats the goodness of raw peas! The meal came together quickly and could be easily adaptable depending on whatever vegetables you’ve got on hand. Sweet colourful peppers, summer squash, even chard or spinach would tasty additions from the garden. I used some fresh oregano here, but I’m sure any herb from your garden – dill, basil, parsley – would be wonderful. I only used a half lemon here, but if you’d like more of a lemon punch-up, add in some zest to brighten up the dish.
summertime ricotta pasta primavera
250 g bow tie pasta (or other short pasta)
1/2 head broccoli, broken into florets
1/2 c chicken stock
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 large green onions, roughly chopped
1 c fresh peas
3 T ricotta cheese
2 T grated parmesan cheese
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 T fresh oregano, minced
salt & pepper
In a large pot, bring salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook covered on med-high heat until half-cooked. Add in the broccoli and cook for 2 minutes. Drain, leaving about 1/2 cup of the cooking water. Add in the chicken stock, garlic, green onions and simmer for a few minutes over low heat until sauce thickens and pasta is al dente. Stir in the fresh peas, parmesan, ricotta, fresh oregano and cook for 1 minute more to heat through. Spritz with lemon juice and add freshly ground pepper and salt if needed. Serves 2.