Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Bucatini with Lemon Parsley Pesto and Sorrel

This post is borne out of necessity, and comes with the hope that it will inspire you to seek out the lemony-sharp green sorrel, wherever you may be--Lehigh Valley or not!

A couple weeks ago I made something on the fly, and I've learned something about these on-the-fly dishes. They garner lots of Facebook traction. People ask me for the recipe usually, and then invariably want to know how I get my kids to eat such things. I just put it in front of them and have been doing so since they were able to eat solid food. I think it's all about exposure. Sometimes they balk. (Usually Miles, but then he usually backpedals and declares me in his four-year-old sensibility as "the best cooker ever.") So here I am offering you a recreation of the recipe, and the promise that I am going to bring you more farm-fresh recipes as the season progresses.

I don't hold hard and fast to the idea that you should use bucatini or indeed long-noodled pasta exclusively here, but we happen to like bucatini, thanks to the regular employment of it by the fabulous chef Mike Joyce at Molinari's in Bethlehem. I'm also a fan of seeking out that which is slightly unknown to the masses, in case you haven't figured that out, so I accept any opportunity to use a less familiar food item. (It also pleases my children immensely to receive yet another different pasta shape at dinner time. So you live and you learn). If you don't know what it is, think of a spaghetti with a little hole in it (buca means mouth). How can that NOT be a good time for all involved?

3/4 to 1 pound bucatini (or other long-noodled pasta)
2 cups parsley, with stems (no need to discriminate in favor of leaves)
1/2 cup walnuts (preferrably toasted in a dry pan for 5-7 minutes until fragrant)
Zest and juice of two lemons
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Two really good pinches of kosher salt
1/4 cup olive oil
1 handful of sorrel, chopped (I honestly didn't measure it, I just used the entire package as Pheasant Hill Farms sells it at the Easton Farmers' Market. I estimate it's probably about 2 cups' worth.)
1 cup chopped grape tomatoes (Disclaimer: It was May when I made this; therefore, the tomatoes did not come from the farmers' market. This is life, people.)

1. Cook pasta according to package directions, scooping out 1/2 to 1 cup of cooking water and reserving for later use.
2. Combine the parsley through salt in the food processor and blitz until it's all combined and the parsley is chopped into small bits. Add the olive oil through the chute and process until you reach your desired consistency. Pesto is one of those things that people are particular about, in terms of consistency, i.e., chunky vs. smooth. I wouldn't intrude upon your personal preferences.
3. Add the pesto to the pasta in batches, and taste. Add more if necessary. Add the chopped tomatoes and sorrel; the heat of the pasta and the next step--adding 1/2 cup of water--will help wilt the everything a little bit.
4. Serve immediately with more freshly grated Parmesan cheese sprinkled on top.

When I first made this, I sauteed the sorrel in a little bit of olive oil, and chopped it after I'd removed it from the pan, and so the photo reflects that. You could certainly do that. Just be aware that it will turn brown pretty quickly. I thought I was being vigilant, but I think the heat was a tad too high. If that's not a desirable outcome, make sure the heat is low and remove it quickly.