Whatever happened to May? I’m flipping pages of the calendars at my house so fast it feels like a bad movie.
So, (until I can slow things down a bit) I offer you this recipe gem, one that is always delicious, as long as you use good ingredients. The recipe uses fresh arugula, my favorite green.
Since May, I've been buying my arugula at a little farm in Boxborough called, Burrough’s Farm. It is on land owned by Bryon Clemence, and it's truly one of those you can't there from here kind of places.
Bryon (spelled with a "yo" not an "ia") is as characteristic a New England farmer as they come--of indeterminant age, wiry, laconic as hell, with an enigmatic slightly condescending smile.
He brings his organic produce to the farmers market up the street from my house, but he also sells it out a dark shed on his website-lacking farm. Just try to find it--I dare you.
The recipe comes from Patricia Wells, my first love (of food writers, that is). I bought one of her cookbooks in 1993 when it first came out and have been cooking from it ever since. It's called Patricia Well's Trattoria, and it contains recipes from lovable trattorias she visited in Italy.
Wells is alive and, well, well--and still living in Paris, and still cooking and writing, I'm happy to report.
Here is a slightly adapted version of her
Pasta with Arugula, Tomatoes, and Shaved Parmigiana
1 2oz. chunk of Italian Parmigiano Reggiano (look for a piece that is a mellow yellow and with not too much thickness of rind).
4 cups (more if you love arugula) stemmed arugula leaves, washed, dried and coarsely chopped or torn (use the freshest leaves you can find. Buy arugula at a farmstand or farmers market in season. Wash in several changes of water until all the grit is gone).
1/4 cup evoo (check the harvest date on the olive oil bottle--you don't want oil that is older than a year if possible. Store it out of the light and in a cool place--not the top of the stove, which looks great but is bad for the oil).
4 ripe plum tomatoes (use tomatoes in season if possible, but whole, canned San Marzano's are OK. If tomatoes are out of season and you don't like to use canned, leave them out).
3 tbls. coarse sea salt
1 lb fresh pasta: tonnarelli (looks like square spaghetti), fettucine, tagliatelle, something with some surface area to grab the arugula. Ordinary spaghetti is too round and slippery.
Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Bring water in your pasta pot (about 6 qts.) to a rolling boil, and as the water is heating up place a large serving bowl over the pot so the bowl heats up too.
Meanwhile, using a vegetable peeler, shave the chunk of parmigiana into long thick strips and deposit 1/2 of it into the bowl on top of the pasta pot.
Add the arugula, the tomatoes, and the oil and toss it all together.
Remove the bowl and add the coarse salt to the pasta water (if you haven't already) and cook the fresh pasta for a few minutes, until tender, then drain.
Add the drained pasta to the big bowl, toss, and season well with the fine sea salt and pepper.
Divide up the pasta and top each serving with the remaining 1/2 of the parmigiana.
Serve immediately with extra black pepper.
It's a wonderful spring pasta dish--even if it is June.