Dinner from the Garden

Dinner tonight was simple and came from my garden. San Marzano tomatoes tossed in warm olive oil infused with garlic and some chopped basil.  The tomatoes and basil were the fruits of my labor. Well, the basil was almost half-dead, but it still tasted fine!

Dinner from the garden

We’ve been in a race against some sort of garden critter with who can get to the ripe tomatoes first. I always lose because I think, “This tomatoes needs one more day on the vine,” but the next day, it’s 1/3 eaten.  The critter should be appreciative enough to eat the whole thing instead of wasting it!

Morels and Asparagus Over Pasta

For the longest time, I didn’t get what the big deal with morels were.  Will would ooh and aah every time fresh morels appeared in a springtime menu.  He would get ecstatic when the Mushroom Man at the farmer’s market got them in. At $30-40 a pound, I just didn’t get what was so great with them.

It wasn’t until the last time Will made morels in a simple dish with just scrambled eggs that it finally clicked. They were earthy, savory, had a weirdly spongey and crunchy texture, and they were good. I can’t believe an umami fiend like me took so long to finally enjoy morels.

Today, I made a special trip to the Santa Monica farmers’ market just to seek out morels.  Luckily, the Mushroom Man had plenty of them and I ended up with half a paper bag full of them.  The Chinese in me cringes at paying $10 for half a small paper bag of mushrooms. But man, they were worth it.

morels and asparagus pasta Morel and asparagus pasta with a Rancho Sisquoc ’95 Cab S.

I sauteed them up with some shallots, fresh asparagus, and a cashew cream sauce I made and they were wonderful on top of pasta.  I had bought a lemon to squeeze into the sauce when I finished so that the acidity could balance out the earthy, rich, savory taste of the sauce, but I forgot completely about it because I couldn’t wait to taste the dish. It was everything I dreamed it would be.

Yes, I am officially on the morel bandwagon now.

Somewhat Pasta Carbonara with Home-grown Chard

pasta carbonara with swiss chardpasta carbonara with swiss chard

The chard I planted in my garden is finally getting big enough to eat!  Since it’s still not enough to make a side out of, I made the next best thing: pasta carbonara with swiss chard.  Since I had to make it vegetarian, I left out the pancetta and parmesan. In place of those I used reconstituted porcini mushrooms (I know, I know, it’s not really the same) and nutritional yeast.

pasta carbonara with swiss chard

I guess I missed the part that said to turn off the heat before adding the egg mixture into the pasta, because I forgot to do so and my pasta carbonara kinda ended up as pasta scrambled eggs. Oops.  Oh well, at least the fresh chard made up for it.

Sorry for the lack of updates folks. The last couple of weeks have been hectic. My aunt from Shanghai is in town (yes) and we had a major life event which was taking up a lot of time last week. More pictures of that to come.

Wedding Hands