When at the farmers market this past weekend I did my usual rounds of my favourite producers. I always begin my Saturday morning during market days with a flavourful crepe made by a lovely woman originally from Quebec. She will even squeeze me some fresh lemonade to go with my favourite savory crepe, a combination of cheeses, cheese curds and pesto. "Bonjour", I say, with which she responds with a flurry of French. This is where I smile and nod:D "Merci", I say. Some day I will try her fruit concoctions but those would limit my ability to wander and chat with our local farmers since I would need a knife and a fork.
This Saturday saw the first cherries of the season so I popped some in my environmentally friendly bag along with fresh basil, asparagus, Spring lettuce mesclun mix, fresh dill, lemon balm, some garlic scapes and early beets. I also made my usual plea for our local farmers to see the value in having zucchini flowers available. I may have convinced one farmer, but the rest have no imagination and see them only as a loss. Everyone of them says, "If you take the flower there will be no zucchini." Don't they realize that there comes a point when they will be selling their zucchini for a few measly cents just to get rid of them because of overabundance??? Let's say I am still working on them:D
If you grow your own garlic or have a good farmer’s market, then you can enjoy a new kind of vegetable..... garlic scapes. The scapes are the flower stems that garlic plants produce before the bulbs mature. Growers often remove the scapes to push the plant’s energy toward bigger bulbs, and when harvested while they are young and tender. The scapes are delicious with a mild garlic flavour so why not use them!!!
To use my Spring produce I came up with this recipe which of course is on the "light" side. It's wonderful flavours come from the Neufchatel cheese, if you can find it, and the sauteed mushrooms and garlic scapes. If Neufchatel is unavailable please substitute "light" cream cheese. The sauce is made so quickly with just the "zip" of the blender. What could be more perfect on these hot summer days. As with all Alfredo dishes serve immediately.
I am submitting this dish to Ruth over at Once Upon a Feast . As always I neglect pasta far too often, but, I do try and join in on the fun whenever I do over at Presto Pasta Nights. Kait of Pots and Plots is this week's host so do visit her blog when you have the chance!!!! Check back on Friday at Pots and Plots for the roundup of delicious pasta dishes!!!
**Fettuccine Alfredo with Roasted Asparagus & Garlic Scapes**
2 cups 1% low-fat milk
1/3 cup (3 ounces) 1/3-less-fat cream cheese (Neufchatel)
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (4 ounces) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1 teaspoon butter
3 - 4 garlic scapes, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
5 - 6 medium sized mushrooms, sliced
1 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces (about 2 cups)
16 ounces uncooked fettuccine
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 425°.
Combine first four ingredients in a blender; process until smooth.
Melt butter in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add garlic scapes and saute approximately 4 minutes until wilted. Add mushrooms; sauté 30 seconds. Add milk mixture to pan; cook 3 minutes or until mixture simmers, stirring constantly. Cook 2 minutes or until thickened, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; stir in cheese. Cover.
Place asparagus on jelly-roll pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 425° 10 minutes or until browned, stirring once.
Cook fettuccine according to package directions, omitting salt and fat; drain well.
Place pasta and asparagus in a large bowl. Add cheese mixture, tossing well. Add pepper; toss gently.
Serves 8 (serving size: 1 cup)