appeasing summer meal and local rosé not to miss

IMG_3577To use up those remaining peas, there’s nothing — literally nothing — better than linguine with pancetta, peas, and mint.  Older peas and the robust flavors of mature mint marry better than the sprightly young things of spring with the aromatic, porculent, chewy bits of pancetta.

And literally nothing better to go with than William Rose Wines’ Prohibition Rose, the rosé hit of the summer around these parts.  First, if you haven’t yet spent half your summer salary on dry rosé, I urge you to do so.  It’s time to get with the program and stop drinking Pinot Gris. Period.

IMG_3578Second, you can’t go wrong with Prohibition Rose, if you can get your hands on it, and do ask for it at local stores.  It’s a blend of southern Oregon Merlot, Syrah, and Grenache, which mindbogglingly might make it harder to get on the shelves because of the Eugene consumer obsession with Pinot everything.  But you’ll be missing out if you spend your hard-earned cash on our popular, boneless WV whites.  And honestly, this year the shine is off even Provençal and Spanish rosés for me, which I love, with Prohibition Rose around.

It has the vivid color of sockeye salmon and all the delicious strawberries and raspberries and good acid structure of its southern French cousins, but a fuller and dare I say wilder body.  It’s a big girl and not at all sweet, and we like it that way.

Anyway, distracted there for a moment.  Back to the pasta.

Buy some of the freshest pancetta you can find, which very well might be the rolled specimens from Salumi in the cheese case at the 29th/Willamette Market of Choice.

Start a pot of boiling water for some fresh Pasta Plus (our local pasta company) linguine, and as that’s progressing, shell your peas and chop up a few handfuls of mint and chives from the garden.

Next, heat a little oil in a deep skillet and fry up as much pancetta as you dare over medium heat, being very careful not to burn it. Add lots of freshly ground black pepper.

When the water boils, throw in the pasta for a few minutes ’til al dente, then quickly add the peas to the pancetta, stir for about 30 seconds, and transfer the pasta from the pot directly into the skillet.

Add a good spoonful of pasta water, toss the pasta, and remove from the heat.

Last, add your torn mint and chives, plate, and garnish with a mound of pecorino cheese.

Oh, and one more thing about William Rose.  The newly released dry riesling.  It is no joke.  Buy it up immediately (but wait until after I get a case).  It’s one of winemaker Mark Nicholl’s absolute favorite wine varietals, and that shows.  Read up on William Rose here, or come to this Saturday’s Bite of Eugene, where he’ll be a judge for the Iron Chef competition, so you can bother him personally.  And what’s up with future plans for the label?  Will there be a home sweet home in its future?  Ask him!

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dark days #15: tangled in pasta

I’ve been on a fresh pasta kick lately.  Not making it, no, but buying it from a local company. :)  But local it was, and thus a fitting candidate for this week’s Dark Days winter eating local challenge.  (In my defense, I did make crackers last weekend with a pasta machine in my flatbread class.)  Fresh pasta is toothsome and has a pleasant bite if it has been made with premium ingredients.  I can really taste the difference, especially in lasagna.

I’ve had a bumper crop of arugula this winter, so much that I treated it like spinach and made a wonderfully cheesy arugula lasagna last week. It didn’t qualify as local meal because I used non-local cheese and tomato sauce, being out of my own, but it was delicious.  We’ve been eating heavy-on-the-arugula salads, too.  I even mixed some in to my salad served to the bread baking class participants this weekend.  We’re all so desperate for green at this point in the winter, the salad was more of a hit than I expected.

For the Dark Days challenge, I did manage to rustle up a delicious creamy spaghettini with arugula, onions sauteed only ’til pale gold, and local frozen peas from Stahlbush Island Farms, our Willamette Valley processing facility.  My idea was based on the French spring vegetable dish of creamed new petits pois with shreds of lettuce.  The sauce contained some frozen homemade chicken stock and local butter and cream, and was quite mild.  Loads of salt and pepper and the first chives of my garden finished it off.

Consider the pea.  I’m kind of smitten.

dark days challenge #9: frozen mush of summer pasta

Another rough week over here at Culinaria Eugenius.  And since Retrogrouch was away for most of the week, I didn’t really feel like cooking.  One more crazybusy week, then things will be a little better and I’ll be in the kitchen again.  So it was frozen food again for the weekly local dark days challenge.

One of the best, and easiest, recipes for using leftover cherry tomatoes in season is slow roasting them on a low temperature in olive oil, whole cloves of garlic, and fat slices of red onion.  We might even call it Mush Confit.  The stuff cooks down, but generally maintains its tomato-onion-garlic shape, and when frozen in quart-sized Ziploc bags, it can be used throughout the winter for pasta, meat sauces, and even as a spread on baguettes for a quick lunch.

My local meal for the week, therefore, was a chunk of slow-roasted summer vegetables tossed in fresh linguine made here in Eugene, and a bit of olive oil.  I added a scoop of frozen, homemade ajvar (red pepper spread) for a little pizzazz.  Some cream would have been nice, too, or sliced sausage, or some pine nuts and parsley (if I weren’t going local).  But even as is, it was quite good.  Can I tell you how happy I am that froze all the food I did?  I still have frozen fruits, tomato sauce, and a bunch of dried fruits and vegetables stored in the freezer.  Next year, my pledge is for more.