Over the weekend, the wind was whipping so hard in the dark hours of night that I was shocked when Sunday morning the garden still existed in the back of the Cute Gardener’s house. Almost as shocked that we, and the house, were all still standing in his neighborhood way up high on a hill. I had seriously envisioned being part of some nightmarish Dorothy dream from Wizard of Oz as I was awakened all night by banshee-like howls.
But like most days post-chaos and storm, Sunday was a peaceful calm and by the end of the day we were in the garden trying to decide what to make for dinner of all that had survived the winds and was ready for picking. Our answer arrived in glorious red stalked leaves of Swiss chard and a bounty of voluptuous fava beans that had seemed to multiply by the dozens merely overnight. Presented with these two vegetables that are very different in personality, the Cute Gardener set about on a mission to prove that opposites can attract.
In the spirit of marrying multiple personalities, he got busy in the kitchen preparing a new dish in his perpetual and encyclopedic repertoire of pastas.
The party began with a dicing of the chard stalks and leaves. The CG uses chard stalks much like celery, to provide a base of flavor, and in pastas to act like a shallot or an onion foundation. In a whirlwind, I watched as an odd assortment of guest ingredients started to arrive. Shrimps were thawed and cooked. Pork belly was diced and sumptuously fried. The fava were thrown in at the end with the wilting chard leaves and tenderized centers. Chives were diced into a million splinters. Pecorino was grated to weave it all together.
It seemed absolutely fitting that, for this special marriage of such widely juxtaposing flavors, a bowtie farfalle was chosen to escort dinner to the table. Not only was the eccentric bowl of pasta interestingly hearty but also it allowed two current and overflowing vegetables produced naturally a chance to dance together. In the end that is what I like best – picking and eating what the earth naturally and seasonally provides.