When spring finally rolls around in Ontario, we’re so starved for sunshine and a good reason to drink beer that we tend to get ahead of ourselves. Who hasn’t found themselves on a patio in April, wrapped inside a cardigan and shivering the moment the sun goes behind a cloud?
Claire Bullen’s recipe—from the award-winning book she wrote with Jen Ferguson—is verdant spring on a plate. Between asparagus, peas and ramps she checks all of the early-season-produce boxes. And, if nature doesn’t cooperate and one of that trio isn’t in-season yet, you could get away with subbing in more of the other two.
More variety and prominence for kettle sours means that we have a new beer style for spring. The dry-hopping in Bang-Bang ties the beer even more tightly to the green flavours on the plate.
For my money, I’d rather spend a sunny and temptingly warm April day with around a table covered with dishes of pasta and glasses of beer.
- 1 stick unsalted butter, divided
- 1 cup (100g) blanched almonds, roughly chopped
- 1 tsp dried culinary lavender, plus extra to garnish
- 1 lb (450g) dried orecchiette pasta
- 1/2 bunch asparagus (woody ends removed), cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 ⅓ cups (200g) shelled peas
- Small bunch of ramps
- 4 ½ oz (125g) goat cheese, divided
- Zest of 1 lemon
- Sea salt and black pepper
- Freshly shaved Parmigiano Reggiano
- Melt 7 tablespoons of butter in a small skillet set over medium-high heat. Add the chopped almonds. Cook for about 3 minutes, stirring frequently, or until the almonds are toasted. When the butter has darkened and smells nutty pour the buttery almonds into a bowl to cool. Add the lavender and stir.
- Cook pasta in well-salted, boiling water for about 10 minutes or until al dente.
- While the pasta is cooking, melt the remaining butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the asparagus and peas, and cook for 3–5 minutes, or until the vegetables are bright green and just tender. Roughly tear the ramps leaves and add to the skillet, stirring until they begin to wilt (about 30 seconds).
- Drain the pasta, reserving approximately ½ cup of the cooking water. Return the pasta to the pan, tip in the asparagus, pea, and ramps mix, and toss to combine.
- Strain the lavender-flavoured butter from the almonds into the pasta, then add half the reserved cooking water and crumble in three-quarters of the goat cheese. Stir until a light sauce forms, adding small amounts of cooking water if necessary to help the sauce bind. Season to taste.
- Divide the pasta among plates, crumbling over the remaining goat cheese and adding the lemon zest, toasted almonds, extra lavender, and a generous amount of freshly ground black pepper. Sprinkle with the grated Parmigiano Reggiano and serve immediately.