Friday, May 22, 2009

Spring Pasta, and a Small Request

Well, friends, it's here! Memorial Day weekend! The start of SUMMER! Here in Boston it's supposed to be gorgeous: mid seventies, sunny, maybe a few showers on Sunday morning, but really a lovely long weekend. I am especially excited to have Monday off because it means the workweek will only be two and a half days long for me next week! That's right, friends, v-a-c-a-t-i-o-n starts on Thursday. Adam and I are taking off to the Pacific Northwest.

So while you look at pictures of the "living lettuce" and asparagus and the tasty pasta they went into, can I ask you a small favor? Can you help a girl out with travel planning? We'll be spending four days in Portland, OR and five in Seattle, WA, and I want to know: what should we not miss? According to Jeanette I have to try the Hedge House Pub's signature salad in Portland, and my mom says I should check out the library in Seattle. I want to drink the local IPAs, and order the pickle plate at Boat Street Cafe. Other plans include drinking boatloads of coffee, and Adam (excellent activities coordinator that he is) snagged us tickets to see Anthony Bourdain's lecture/talk/book promotion event at the Keller Auditorium. Please (please?) leave your suggestions in the comments. I would really love to hear them.

And while we're on the topic of suggestions, might I suggest you give this spring-on-a-plate pasta dish a try? Really, I mean, asparagus, pea shoots, LETTUCE? It's crunchy and delicious and good warm or cold. You could even take it with you to a barbecue this weekend!

Spring Pasta
Adapted from Bon Appetit

2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil plus additional for drizzling
handful of spring onions or green onions (dark green parts discarded); white parts cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices, pale green parts cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
1 small minced shallot
Coarse kosher salt
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup low-salt chicken broth
1 pound asparagus, cut crosswise into 3/4-inch pieces
a couple of handfuls of pea shoots, (or 2 cups fresh peas, cooked briefly with the asparagus)3/4 pound campanelle (trumpet-shaped pasta) or medium (about 1-inch) shell-shaped pasta
most of a head of butter lettuce or Boston lettuce, cored, leaves cut into 3/4-inch-wide slices
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese plus additional for sprinkling
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
4 oz thinly sliced prosciutto, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-wide strips

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, you'll need it in a minute.

Melt butter with 2 tablespoons oil in heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and shallot. Sprinkle with coarse salt and pepper. Sauté until tender (but not brown), about 8 minutes. Add wine; increase heat to medium-high and simmer until liquid is reduced to glaze, about 3 minutes. Add broth and bring to simmer; set aside.

Cook asparagus in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender, 2 to 4 minutes, depending on thickness of asparagus, I usually put the stalks in first and the quicker-cooking tips a minute or two later. Using skimmer or slotted spoon, transfer the asparagus to large bowl of ice water and return the water to a boil.

Cook pasta until tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Drain, reserving 1 cup pasta cooking liquid. Meanwhile, reheat onion mixture. Add lettuce and stir just until wilted, about 1 minute. Add drained asparagus and peas; stir until heated through. Add pasta, Parmesan cheese, and parsley to skillet with vegetables; toss, adding reserved pasta cooking liquid by 1/4 cupfuls if dry. Season with salt and pepper.

Transfer pasta to large shallow bowl. Sprinkle prosciutto over; drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with additional Parmesan cheese.


  1. My friend just sent me this link: It's in Portland, but I haven't been. Yes, the Hedge House has great sandwiches & salads & they're beers are strong! The Amnesia Brew Pub is my hands down favorite for IPA...and it's super casual & they serve sausages and they have board games! The Basement Pub for Sunday night trivia if you are into that kind of thing. Pine State Biscuits for "The Reggie" & a bottle of Cheerwine. The Tin Shed for amazing breakfast. Pambiche for great cuban food & delicious empanadas. The Pied Cow for dessert. The Bagdad Theater for cheap movies & beer. Seattle I wrote about recently on my blog. Hmmm, maybe you'll cross the border to Vancouver too??

  2. Grrrr, they're should be their! I know the difference, sometimes it just takes a bit for the coffee to kick in to my brain. Oh wait, I haven't had my coffee yet!

  3. Have Fun! Enjoy the weekend (say hi to my daughters for me!) and enjoy the vacation! I haven't been to Seattle in about 25 years (oh wow, isn't that how old you are??!) so I have no tips, but check out Alicia's Blog at, she's in Portland and always has lots of northwest travel tips there!! Bon Voyage! xo AP

  4. Thanks for all the suggestions, Jeannette - I love sausage, Adam loves games, and we both love IPA - Amnesia sounds perfect!

    Auntie P, I'm twenty SIX thankyouverymuch :-p And thanks for the link.

  5. Can't ehlp you out wiht suggestions, but have fun planning you trip. Pasta looks perfect and I actually have most of these ingredients on hand. Yay!

  6. This looks fantastic. Alas, I have no idea where one finds pea shoots in Hong Kong. *sigh*

  7. I don't live in the Pac. Northwest, but I always seem to end up there! Portland has this amazing food cart block that I totally recommend: One of my favs is The Whole Bowl: They have a location in food cart paradise. I also really liked Cupcake Jones: and The Waffle Window: Powell's Books is always fun, too. It's like book paradise!
    For Seattle, I recommend Cherry St Coffee:, Dick's Drive In:, and The Fremont Troll:

  8. that look so good, it's better if i can taste it =)