Jennifer’s Market Basket: Pasta, Tomato Sauce and Spinach

“They make the best pasta,” I overheard the tall, middle aged man say convincingly as we casually wandered toward the Ferranti pasta stall at the Capitol City Farmer’s Market. The bearded shopper’s earnest words invisibly tugged my ear and led me to a table where samples of plump ravioli and spirals of green and white pasta were displayed.

Soon we were chatting amiably with the proprietress, who makes her pasta from scratch every Friday night for the Saturday morning market. “I could talk for hours about flour,” she said as she talked about the three different grades of semolina. Made from the endosperm of durum wheat, the first milling is the coarsest and contains the most nutrients. This first grade semolina flour is used to make Ferranti’s fresh pasta.

Also for sale were eight-ounce tubs of chunky tomato-basil sauce, so I bought one along with a one-pound bag of Plain and Spinach Radiatori. At home I noted the brief list of ingredients on the pasta package: 100% durum semolina, fresh eggs, water, and dehydrated spinach.

Susan and I also selected freshly picked, spray-less spinach from AC&D Farms in New Plymouth for our weekly market basket.

Ingredients from the farmer’s market

To the pasta, tomato sauce and spinach I added a small slab of Idaho Jersey Dream Feta Style Farmstead Cheese from Ballard Family Dairy in Gooding, a handful of salty Sicilian style green olives from Winco, and half a bunch of farm-fresh asparagus in order to make a simple, wholesome pasta salad for dinner. It took about 25 minutes to put together, and I barely had time to take photos before the entire dish was devoured by my husband and two grown sons.

Farmer’s Market Pasta Salad

Devoured in minutes

Serves 4

1/2 cup Sicilian style olives

1/3 pound feta cheese

16 oz. fresh pasta

3 big handfuls of spinach leaves

8 leaves fresh basil, cut chiffonade

8 oz. tomato sauce

Bring a large pot of water to boil.

While the water is heating, chop the olives and cut the feta into small cubes. Place them in a large, shallow pasta serving bowl. Wash the spinach; drain. Slice spinach leaves into strips and add to serving bowl. Wash and snap asparagus; cut into ½-inch long pieces.

When the water boils, add pasta and asparagus to the pot. Cook 3-4 minutes or until pasta is al dente. Drain; pour hot pasta and asparagus over feta, olives and spinach. Top with tomato sauce and toss. Garnish with basil chiffonade.

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