pea greens

We found ourselves with an abundance of Allen Farms pea greens this week, a lovely hostess gift from our friend Jen Huntley-Corbin given at Sunday’s brunchtacular. These greens are wonderful in pesto or raw in salads, but I decided to try something different with them last night. Looking at what else we had on hand in the fridge and pantry, and thinking back to a recent dish I wanted to have another go at, I decided to incorporate the greens into a fresh pasta dough. I hoped they would provide not just a vibrant green color, but some of their delicate pea flavor as well – and of course, a dough like this would be a perfect wrapper for fresh ricotta and a beautiful farm egg yolk.

I began by setting a pot of salted water to a boil (which I’d later use to cook the pasta), then blanching the pea greens – just a minute or two was all they needed. The greens went into an ice bath, and then I squeezed them dry and put them in the food processor to chop.

Since my previous attempt at a green pasta dough didn’t work as well as I had hoped, the dough more flecked than uniformly green, I went for a different approach this time, adding a cup of flour to the food processor along with the chopped, blanched pea greens and a pinch of kosher salt, and processing the mixture until it was well-blended and a bit pebbly.

I turned it into a bowl and added my eggs, starting with one whole egg plus one yolk, mixing first with a fork and then my hands, and adding more flour until it all came together. I kneaded the dough, wrapped it in plastic, let it rest, and proceeded to roll it out as usual. I froze half of this batch of dough for future use, which left me with two long sheets of pasta, divided into six portions.

I added a bit of my filling to each – a mixture of Narragansett Creamery ricotta, finely chopped mint from the garden, some salt, fresh lemon zest, and a little grated Pecorino Romano – then nestled an egg yolk in the center of each mound before folding the edge of the dough over to seal.

Instead of cutting or trimming the edges, I decided to fold the pasta to seal it up around the filling, tucking and rolling the edge all around, and placing my sealed bundles onto a lightly floured tray until I was ready to cook them. When all six bundles were assembled, I cooked them two at a time in my boiling pasta water, lowering them in with a slotted spoon and letting them cook for just a few minutes each. I added the cooked bundles to our warmed plates, spooning over a sauce of butter, the juice of a lemon, and just enough of the starchy pasta water to smooth it out, sprinkling a few raw pea greens and some additional grated Pecorino over the top.

Dinner:  May 26, 2009

This is still a work-in-progress, mainly because the texture of the dough isn’t quite where I want it to be yet, but the taste was on the money, fresh and bright, with the pea greens contributing their delicate aroma and color as well as well as their flavor, just as I hoped they would.

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