Spring Vegetable Dinner -Part One

My first trip to the farmer's market this Spring was last weekend, where I acquired a beautiful vegetable that I had never heard of, and most certainly had never tasted. Despite my lack of knowledge, I felt inclined to buy it since it was the best looking piece of produce in the market that day. I left the market thinking I bought something called flowering cabbage, thanks to a helpful soul who tried to explain to me what it was. After doing some research, I realized that the these skinny stalks covered in a mix of leaves and little broccoli buds were not flowering cabbages, which seem to be something that you plant in your garden for decoration. I was quickly losing excitement about my mysterious find. Until yesterday. I was reading through the Spring chapter in this book (one of two amazing new cookbooks I received for my birthday - thanks guys!!) when I stumbled upon a recipe for Purple Sprouting Broccoli. Lo and behold, that was what was in my fridge. (I guess that guy in the market wasn't so far off. Broccoli is a cruciferous plant and therefore in the cabbage family.)

I must confess I'm definitely not the biggest broccoli fan, but I was going to forge ahead confident that I would feel differently this time. Plus, Jamie Oliver had supplied inspiration for a cheesy pasta dish to help. Maybe it was the calm that came over me from watching a giant bowl of cheese melt, that had me feeling confident that this wasn't going to be a flash-back to traumatic dinners where I was forced to try new vegetables as a kid. Or maybe, it was the fondue-like cheese sauce that had me practically salivating to try some...broccoli? Wow. So strange, but in the end this was certainly not like any broccoli I've ever had. It was slightly sweet, and once cooked reminded me of a Swiss chard. One of those work-horse vegetables that, no matter what you do with it, it adapts beautifully. The stalks did remain a bit tougher than the rest of the leaves, but maybe I just didn't remove enough of the bottoms. No matter, it was still quite tasty, and a welcome addition in this rich, silky pasta sauce. I think you should definitely give this a try if you find it in your market. I only hope it's not too late in the season to find some more. Next time I'll be brave enough to just try it sauteed in garlic and olive oil. Oh, and my Grandma thanks you, Mr. Oliver, for getting me to eat my vegetables.

Fettuccine with Purple Sprouting Broccoli and Cheese Sauce
Adapted from Jamie at Home, by Jamie Oliver

1lb. of Fettuccine or other broad noodle
1 bunch of Purple Sprouting Broccoli
6 oz. creme fraiche
5 oz. good melting cheese (I used an alpine-style cheese from here:
5 oz. grated Parmesan
2 egg yolks beaten
Bunch of fresh herbs (I used tarragon, but oregano would be nice too)

Prep greens by
cutting off tough ends and cutting diagonally into reasonable size pieces. Boil
a pot of water for the pasta. About 3 minutes before it is done, toss in the
greens to cook. Strain when done, but reserve a bit (1 cup is more than plenty)
of the cooking water for the sauce.

Meanwhile, over another pot of
boiling water, place a large bowl with the creme fraiche, the two cheeses and a
bit of salt and pepper. Let this start to boil, stirring occasionally to break
up clumps of cheese.

When the sauce is completely melted add the egg
yolks and herbs and toss with pasta and greens until evenly coated. If needed to
make the sauce thinner, add some of the leftover pasta water. Top with more
grated Parmesan and some pepper.

Call your mom and tell her you ate your
broccoli today.