Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Pappardelle, Pea Shoots & Creamy Tuna Sauce...and irises, irises, irises!

After recently making the dumplings for our borscht (recipe), I found myself with a surfeit of dough. The more uncommon pasta like wholesome, comforting pappardelle is not easy to find here, so being a hedonistic opportunist, I pinched off a bit of dough, rolled it out until the sheet would not get any thinner without disappearing, and cut it into one-inch-wide strips. The next several days I kept on hammering out pieces of the dough until it was no more and adding to the pasta whatever fresh greens were available from our garden. The toppings were various easy-to-make sauces. One version was tossed with pea shoots and a creamy tuna sauce studded with capers and spiked with paprika and garlic.

The paprika imparts a pleasing rosiness to the sauce.

This is the first season I have potted up some pea seeds just for picking their shoots. I snap off several inches from the top, ending just above the next leaf. Before the summer heat wilts the plants, there should be several harvests.

They can be eaten fresh or cooked and are one of my favourite greens as they are so delicate in taste

In addition, I sowed the usual bed so the plants can form pea pods.

English daises galore, pea bed on the right, raspberries, bluebells, and wildlife area in the back

A golf-sized ball is enough for one serving.


Bring some water to the boil. Roll the dough out on a floured surface until it is fairly thin, but feel free to experiment with the thickness you like which is something you can't do with store-bought ones.


Put a few tablespoons of cream, a teaspoon of capers, a minced garlic clove, some paprika, a tablespoon or so of the pasta cooking water, and mashed tuna in a skillet. Heat gently while stirring. Add salt to taste.


Toss a handful of rinsed shoots in first and cook for about a minute.  Fish out and reserve.


Lower each noodle slowly by hand into the boiling water. As it cooks up fast, sticking will be kept to a minimum. But still give a judicious stir here and there. Depending on the thickness, only a minute or two of cooking is needed as fresh noodles are done quickly. Scoop out the papparelle with a pasta fork or drain them.


Mix the pasta and shoots together and top with tuna sauce. So simple, so fresh, and so good!


The irises are the stars at the moment in the garden. There are just two varieties--an earlier blooming, taller, silky two-toned violet-blue and a deep, velvety purple.




Anticipating the unfurling of such a tightly rolled bud is as thrilling as watching a fashion designer slowly shaking out a bolt of purple velvet.


The furry white tongue on the lower petal is the 'beard'


The lilacs do have a supporting role in the flower flick that is running in our garden.


But the roses are promising to be the scene stealer.


Hanging out the laundry in the brisk spring wind while being regaled with the bearded irises' perfume--similar but headier than that emitted by Lily of the Valley--is one of the biggest joys ever!

Apple tree is just starting to flower

As there are about seven buds on each iris stalk, the faded flowers wrap themselves around yet unopened buds. However deadheading so many flowers is eased because of their fragrance. As I will often tightly clutch huge quantities of them while working a bed, my hands end up looking like this:

Note to self: when deadheading irises wear old, dark clothes and not white clamdiggers!

The broccoli planted last autumn went fully into flower providing a wonderful colour complement for the bluebells and irises.

That's a strawberry bed close to flowering behind the yellow riot

The impertinent splash of red just above the irises is a rose impatient to audition in our garden's cinematic endeavour.

The spring garden is beautiful, non?

À la prochaine!