Spaghetti alla Contadina (serves 4)

I told my friend “Farmer Sarah” that I would not sing her praises publicly until she actually read my blog. Alas, I couldn’t hold to that promise after receiving my first CSA box from her new farm. CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture and it is a great thing to support and be part of. The deal is,  Sarah grows vegetables from April to November and you can buy a share of her organic, in-season crop which you pick up each week from the farm or a drop-off point.

My share of the crop, 1st week

I was so exciting about picking up my first box of goodies yesterday, for tons of reasons. I was going to be able to eat up-to-the-minute fresh vegetables grown by a woman passionate about locally grown food. From now to November I could forego the vegetable section of the supermarket aisle, saving so much time AND I was going to be compelled to experiment with whatever was given to me.

When I opened the box I had to stop myself from cooking everything I got instantly. I felt like a child with a box of toys and couldn’t decide which one to play with first! I pulled it together and choose carefully. I decided that the first thing I must do was try a little pale purple and white radish. I sliced one in two and paired it with a pinch of flaky sea-salt and a bit of butter and popped the whole thing into my mouth – sheer bliss.

The amazing dinner we had last night

I had a 1lb ring of apple and onion sausage in the fridge that had to be used. I chose a bunch of garlic chives and some robust looking chard from my CSA box and went from there. Somehow, it just had to be Italian as I wanted to use the phrase “alla Contadina” in gratitude to my Farmer friend Sarah. I don’t speak Italian whatsoever except for knowing phrases in recipe titles and ingredients etc. I love how the Italians name so many dishes after the people or trade that discovered them (like Pasta alla Carbonara which is named for the Italian Charcoal Burners, or, Pasta Puttanesca which translates as, Whore’s pasta – charming!). I wanted my dish to have the word Farmer in the title, so, that’s what I did (although my phrasing is probably incorrect?)

This dish was wholly inspired by the garlic chives. I had a small bag of pearl onions and decided to roasted them and add to the sauce later. It was an amazing dinner and I cannot wait to keep inventing new ways of cooking the fabulous mystery box of vegetables bestowed upon me each week!

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You will need: 1 lb sausage (any flavor you like) cut into 1 1/4″ pieces, 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, 1 10oz bag (or 1 1/4 cups) of pearl onions, yellow or white, 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped, 7 or 8 big leaves of chard or kale, big ribs removed and chopped roughly, 1/2 cup chopped garlic chives (or regular chives), 3/4 cup white wine, 2 egg yolks, 1/3 cup heavy cream, 3/4 cup pasta water (reserved from cooked spaghetti), 1 lb spaghetti (I use Barilla brand), Parmigiano Reggiano for garnish, coarse sea-salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Preheat oven to 425*

Roast the onions first..

1 – Rub a little extra-virgin olive oil on the onions with your hands and place in a single layer on a baking sheet. Roast for 15 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and when cool enough to handle, peel off the skin and set aside. To peel the skin cut the end with the stringy bit and squeeze the onion out from the base of the other end. It should pop out easily.

Fry sausages, add garlic..

2 – Put a big saute pan on medium heat and add 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil. Add sausages and fry for about 15 minutes, turning frequently to brown on all sides. Add garlic and continue to cook for another 3 minutes.

add onions, then wine..

3 – Add pearl onions and cook for a minute before adding the wine and 1/4 cup of water. Bring to a simmer.

4  – Put water on for pasta and cook according to instructions. Try to time it so as the pasta is cooked right when the greens have simmered for the allotted time (see below; 5-7 minutes). Before draining pasta scoop out 1 cup of the pasta cooking water and set aside.

Add chives and greens..

4 – Add chives, greens, several grinds of pepper and 1/2 tsp coarse salt, cover and simmer gently for about 5 to 7 minutes, until greens are soft.

mix egg yolks with cream..

5 – While greens are cooking mix egg yolks and cream together with a fork. When spaghetti is cooked and pasta water is removed, toss the spaghetti into pan with sauce and immediately stir in the egg yolk mixture using a vigorous motion. Add about 1/2 a cup of pasta water and check to see if it is the consistency you like. If not, add more pasta water until you are satisfied. Taste for further seasoning before you serve.

top with a little Parmigiano Reggiano..

Divide between warmed bowls and pass some cheese around.

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