Seems the April showers are a bit delayed this year, but I really don’t mind. I love the gloomy grey skies, getting to wear big boots and my bright yellow rain jacket, and how fresh all the rain makes the air feel. Plus it definitely helped our garden along: I came back from a week-long family vacation in the Dominican Republic only to discover some giant rhubarb, loads of mint and lemon balm, and some asparagus and garlic sprouting out of the earth!
There still isn’t much in the way of local produce yet, but the few ingredients for this meal feel fresh and bright like a spring meal should. The bright pops of colour from asparagus and arugula mimic our surroundings, the greenery slowly emerging from its winter hibernation. We are definitely looking forward to more abundant farmers’ markets and the (small) bounty that awaits us in our very own backyard. Happy spring time friends!
artichoke and leek penne with ricotta (vegetarian, vegan)
380 g whole grain penne
6 asparagus stalks, trimmed and chopped into 2 inch pieces
4 artichoke hearts, halved and sliced
1/2 large leek, sliced into half moons (about 1/2 cup loosely packed)
1/4 cup white wine (I used sauvignon blanc)
1/2 batch almond ricotta (see below)
1 tsp lemon zest
handful of arugula
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt generously, then add the penne. About one minute before the pasta is ready, add the asparagus to the pot. Cook for one minute, then drain and reserve about 1 cup of pasta water.
Meanwhile, heat a splash of oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the artichokes and leeks with a pinch of salt, and cook for 5-6 minutes until the leeks have softened slightly. Add the white wine, and continue to cook until mostly reduced. Add the ricotta, drained pasta, asparagus, and lemon zest, stirring to coat. Add the pasta water until it becomes saucy and coats every noodle (I added about 1/2 – 2/3 cup). Add the arugula and stir through, adding more salt if needed. Divide between 2 plates.
Almond ricotta (barely adapted from hot for food blog)
1 cup blanched almonds
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon nutritional yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon white/mild miso
1/3 cup water
Blend ingredients in a high speed blender until almost smooth and no big chunks of almond remain.
Feel free to use a regular dairy ricotta if that suits you.
You only need half of the ricotta from the recipe above; use the extras for some bruschetta!