With my newfound freedom, I went to a cooking class with one of my friends from Baylor, another rogue Texan. We went to a class on cooking fish without panicking a while back, and this one was on cooking with current farmer’s market produce.
Now, this is basically how I cook all the time–go to Russo’s, see what looks good, get that, get leeks and kale and berries anyway, then concoct dinner. For me, the real fun of these classes is in getting the opportunity to cook with ten other people and have wine and ask the expert chef all sorts of questions.
I created my own version with these lovely imported spaghettoni noodles. At the class, our teacher told us that the wheat in Italy is somehow “stronger.” I’m not sure if that’s what gives the noodles their almost sourdough-y flavor, but they have a definite nutty undertone, and I’m not making it up this time.
Spaghettoni with Pea Tendrils and Young Onions
Serves 3-4, depending on hunger levels
½ lb. spaghettoni, or other hardy, long noodles
2-4 young onion bulbs, halved and sliced in half moons (about 1 cup)
Approx. 4-5 cups fresh pea tendrils and leaves, chopped roughly
½ Tablespoon salted butter
½ Tablespoon olive oil
¼ cup chicken or vegetable broth
Juice of ½ lemon
Cheese for melting
Salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 egg per person
½ teaspoon vinegar
1. Cook pasta according to package directions, reserving ¾ cup of cooking liquid. Drain and set aside, uncovered.
2. Heat olive oil to medium/medium-high in a large skillet. Add butter. Sweat onions 5 minutes, until translucent and fragrant.
3. Add pea tendrils and toss. Sauté 2-3 minutes. Add broth, raise heat so that broth simmers rapidly. Braise 3-5 minutes, tasting tendrils for doneness. They should still have some bite but lose their starchy pea flavor.
4. Add pasta to skillet, tossing to coat noodles. Add ⅔-¾ cup starchy water and reduce on high heat for 1 minute.
5. Meanwhile, boil a pot of water with the ½ teaspoon of vinegar. Crack the egg(s) into a small dish or heatproof measuring cup. When rapidly boiling, drop in egg, close lid, and shut off heat. For medium yolk, wait 4-5 minutes, then strain egg on a paper towel.*
6. Assemble pasta immediately. Top with cheese and lemon juice, to taste. Finish with the poached egg, an extra drizzle of olive oil, and salt and pepper.
*Note: if you are poaching several eggs, make sure to use a large pot in which the eggs will not stick together, and be sure that the water is very rapidly boiling before you drop eggs in, so that it retains enough heat to cook the egg.