Yes, this is a variation on a theme. It's quite possible that I will reinterpret this recipe, yet again next week, only in risotto. You never know. If it seems as though Husband and I eat a lot of pasta, well, it's true. Pasta is such a great blank slate. For this reason, I could never even think of doing any sort of low-carb nonsense; it's a silly thought. Many of my pasta recipes can be adopted to use beans as a base instead of pasta, or a combination of both; this will at least give you some fiber.
I love this time of year, when the sugar snap peas are just coming up - I like to cut them lengthwise and give them a quick steam. They hardly need any gussying up, just a little salt and maybe a pinch of butter, if you're so inclined. Here they're paired with a little bacon (could easily be left out for a vegetarian option) and those shitakes I love so much. A little cream and a good dose of herbs round out the flavors. I received this blend of braising greens in this week's CSA box - tiny chard, young mustard and kale, lamb's quarters - and adding them gives you a little nutritional boost, so you don't feel so bad about all that cream... My farmer picks her greens young and tender, so if you have larger, tougher greens, you might cut them into thin strips and leave them in the steamer for a few minutes. Don't forget that cream loves black pepper, so don't leave it out. Also, the Tabasco in this recipe isn't for heat per se, it's just for a nice acidic balance to all of the cream and cheese.
Sugar Snap Peas, Shitakes, Bacon & Greens with Creamy Pasta & Herbs - serves 2
1/2 pound angel hair or linguine, cooked in salted water to just al dente
4 slices bacon, cut into thin strips
3 green garlic stalks, slivered or 3 scallions or shallots - whatever's available
8 ounces mushrooms, shitake or other good mushroom, slivered
8 ounces (2 good handfuls) sugar snap peas, strings removed, rinsed, and cut lengthwise
large handful greens - kale, mustard, lamb's quarters, spinach, chard, or a blend
4 ounces vegetable or chicken stock
4 ounces heavy cream
5 sticks thyme
12-15 sage leaves, cut into chiffonade
salt & black pepper
6 dashes Tabasco
2 ounces hard cheese, such as Parmesan (although I used Oakvale aged Gouda), freshly grated, plus extra for garnish
Steam the peas for 2 minutes and shock in cold water. Set aside. Steam the greens for 30 seconds and set aside. Cook the bacon in a large sauce pan over medium to medium-high heat until bacon is crisp, then remove the bacon to paper towels. Drain off bacon fat until there is about 1 tbsp left; add the green garlic or onions and saute for about 2 minutes, until it's begun to soften, then add the mushrooms; season with salt & pepper and cook just a few minutes, then deglaze the pan with the vegetable stock (there will probably be some brown bits from the bacon). When the stock has cooked down, add the heavy cream and thyme; season heavily with pepper. Turn the heat up to high and add the greens, peas, Tabasco and the sage. Cook until the cream is reduced by about half, add the bacon and cheese and stir, then add the pasta. Toss everything to coat. Place in bowls, garnished with a little more black pepper and grated cheese.
Local sources for this recipe: I bought nearly everything for this pasta at this week's market - mushrooms from Toby Run, peas from Wishwell Farms, green garlic from Pop & Judy's farm, bacon from Blues Creek in the North Market, and Oakvale from their stand at the North Market Farm Market. North Market Poultry & Game sells great chicken stock, as well. The greens came from this week's CSA. You can even buy fresh linguine at Pastaria in the North Market!