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Green Garlic, Butter, and Parmesan

. . . with eggs, or  fresh pasta, or fish or beef or beans, or toast. . .! I can think of few things that would not be enhanced by the combination of these three things. I know I wrote about green garlic here a few weeks go and in fact I do every spring. There’s something about those sweet, fresh, flexible, immature garlic stalks that makes cooking so fun this time of year. It’s the third wet, cold spring in a row for us Oregonians and my robust green garlic crop is one of the few highlights in an otherwise unbearably soggy garden.

In other news, my recent trip to Louisville, Kentucky (beautiful city with excellent food) for the Slow Food National Congress was decidedly not soggy and very inspiring. But I was also relieved to be home again and reminded of how comforting and freeing it is to be able to cook with whatever odds and ends you might find in your kitchen/garden after being away for a week. You can read about that here. And it reminded me why I love to teach cooking classes and in particular my Eat Better Series, which lays the foundation for delicious, healthy eating every day, no matter where you are or what your dietary restrictions may be. So if you sometimes find yourself at a loss for what to make for dinner and no time to run to the store or need, simple, quick recipes to avoid eating processed foods, then this might be your class.

If you live in Portland, Oregon you can buy this fresh spinach pasta at Pastaworks/City Market. It's delicious, beautiful and incredibly inexpensive.

Pasta with Green Garlic, Butter & Parmesan

You use the whole garlic stalk, much like you would a green onion (scallion). The whole plant is tender and delicious so just barely trim it. And if you don’t have pasta you can gently cook fish fillets or shrimp in the garlic mixture, or toss the garlic into scrambled eggs or a frittata or stir it into a bowl of warm pinto beans. You really can add it to most anything.

1 lb fresh pasta (or 2/3 lb dried spaghetti, linguine or other long, skinny pasta)
5-6 stalks green garlic, roots and scraggly tops trimmed, finely chopped
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan or other hard cheese
Salt, pepper and touch of olive oil

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt generously. Have a cup on hand to scoop out some of the cooking water before you drain the pasta.

Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat. Add the chopped green garlic and stir well to coat. Add a few pinches of salt. Cook the garlic, covered, stirring occasionally until it’s soft and fragrant, about 10 minutes. Be careful not to burn it.

If you’re using fresh pasta you’ll just need to cook it for two minutes or so. Check frequently so that you don’t overcook it. When the pasta is al dente, scoop out about 1/2 cup of the cooking water and set aside. Drain the pasta and add it to the pan with the garlic (off the heat), then add the grated cheese and some of the cooking water. Stir vigorously to mix. It will take a minute or two for the pasta cooking water to work its magic and combine with the cheese and the garlic to create a sauce that will just coat the pasta. Add more water if it seems dry. Adjust for seasoning and drizzle a bit of good olive oil over the whole thing and add a few grinds of pepper. Enjoy!

I had eaten my whole serving save this bite when I remembered I wanted to take a photo. I'm warning you, this goes down very easily!

Spring Potato Salad

The perfect way to use up some of the hardboiled eggs you might have lying around this week.

If you spend any time on this site at all you know how much I love parsley–I use it as a salad green, I mix it with lemon, garlic and olive oil for a topping to most anything, . . . And you know the same is true for Greek yogurt. So combine the two with waxy yellow potatoes and hardboiled eggs and you get my new favorite potato salad. And if you have hard-boiled eggs a plenty thanks to the Easter Bunny, well then, put them to use here!

This is going to be a very short post since I’m off to the Slow Food USA National Congress and Board Meeting in Louisville, Kentucky tomorrow. You don’t hear much about my Slow Food work here but it has been occupying a lot of my time and energy and is as about as linked to Cook With What You Have as you can get, so I figure it’s worth a mention. . .

What is Slow Food? Imagine a world where the food we eat is good for us, good for farmers and workers, and good for the planet. Slow Food USA is building that world by bringing people together through the common language of food. Through local projects, educational events and campaigns in 150 countries, Slow Food volunteers are promoting environmentally friendly food production, teaching children how to grow and prepare their food, and working to make real food accessible to all.

And finally, for a look into a Cook With What You Have class check out this short profile. In a few weeks I’ll be able to post the actual cooking episodes on Food Farmer Earth this video will be introducing.

Spring Potato Salad with Creamy Parsley Dressing

The capers and lemon zest really round out this simple but hearty dish. And I am generous with the yogurt in the dressing. You want a really creamy salad so don’t skimp.

You can also use the dressing on roasted polenta or any kind of grains or beans that you’re serving at room temperature. It’s great with roasted veggies, in fish tacos . . .

Serves 4

1 ½ lbs. Yukon gold, red or other waxy, firm-fleshed potatoes (about 5-6 small-medium)
2-3 hardboiled eggs, roughly chopped
½ a big bunch of parsley
2 tablespoons of capers, rinsed
½ cup Greek or plain whole milk yogurt (or more, to taste)
1 small garlic clove, minced or preferably mashed (or pressed)
Zest of half a lemon
Juice of half a lemon (or a bit more)
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper

Scrub the potatoes and boil them in their skins until tender. Drain and let cool. Peel if you’d like or skip this step (I usually skip it) and cut into bite-sized chunks. Mix all remaining ingredients (except the eggs) in a medium bowl. Taste the dressing to make sure it’s salt enough and has enough acidity. The capers add a bit of both and if you’ve mashed the garlic with some salt, go easy on the salt at first—though potatoes soak up a lot of salt. The dressing will be fairly thick. You can thin it out with a bit more olive oil or milk or cream or even a little water if you’d like. Mix the dressing carefully into the potatoes and finally add the chopped egg.