Farmer’s Market Season

Finally, spring has arrived and Farmer’s Market Season has commenced.  We are so fortunate to have a growing number of markets to visit each weekend including:

Ottawa Farmer’s Market @ Brewer Park – Sundays
Main Street Farmer’s Market @ St. Paul’s University – Saturdays
Ottawa Organic Farmer’s Market behind Canadian Tire at Bank & Heron on Saturdays
Parkdale Farmer’s Market – Daily
….and so many more cropping up here and there.  For a more comprehensive list, click here.

The first local crop to hit the markets is asparagus.  We received our first delivery last week from Rideau Pines Farm – a pick your own fruit & vegetable farm near Manotick.

Fresh picked & delivered same day

Fresh picked & delivered same day

According to Matt at Rideau Pines, don’t shy away from the large asparagus.  If it’s picked fresh, locally grown, then it’s just as tender as small asparagus, and it has more crunch so can be enjoyed really lightly cooked or even raw as part of a cold salad or slaw.  Today’s recipe features this amazing vegetable.

Under the right conditions, asparagus can grow up to 1 cm per hour.  Asparagus can be green, white or purple.  To extend the life, refrigerate stalks, tips up in a cup of shallow water.  Asparagus can be broiled, steamed, grilled, roasted or sautéed.  Asparagus is high in fiber, folate and potassium, and contains bone-building vitamin K along with many antioxidants, including vitamins E, A and C.  Each spear of asparagus has just 4 calories and contains no fat or cholesterol.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1mLf-wUdkws

Pasta with Peas, Asparagus and Double Smoked Bacon

8 oz dry pasta
2 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
1 cup whipping cream
1 bunch asparagus
1 cup shelled green peas (may substitute frozen, thawed)
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil or tarragon leaves
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
¼ pound Double Smoked Bacon – cubed (Piggy Market’s is the best!)

salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

Preparation:

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta according to directions. While the pasta is cooking prepare the sauce as follows.

In a large saucepan cook the bacon on medium heat until golden.  Remove bacon and set aside.  Add the garlic and Asparagus. Cook for 1-2 minute.  Remove Asparagus and set aside. Add the stock, cream, lemon zest and turn heat up to high. When it begins to boil, add the peas and continue cooking for about 3 minutes. Turn off heat.

Drain the pasta (do not rinse), and add back to the pot. Pour in the sauce and mix to coat the pasta. Add the lemon juice, basil, Parmesan, asparagus, salt and pepper. Toss again and serve immediately – garnish with double smoked bacon.  If your grill is on, consider grilling the asparagus lightly tossed in oil first.  The flavour is delicious!

Variations:  You can top this lovely pasta with grilled chicken or fish, or serve it beside a grilled steak.