In the 50-plus years before I camped out for the grand opening of the Fasta & Ravioli Co. shop in Pleasant Gap, boxed pasta (or spaghetti in the days before gourmet) was just a vehicle for a garden tomato sauce; a nest for heavenly basil pesto.
For a brief spell, in the late 1980s and early 1990s, my mother had a pasta machine. When we visited on weekends we were treated to homemade pasta with my Dad at the helm and a few terse words aimed at the “damn machine”.
At Fasta’s grand opening, the first 50 customers were awarded a card for a free pound of linguine each week for a year. So, for the past(a) year, my pasta has come free and weekly in four gently folded and twisted bunches, soft to the touch, sprinkled with cornmeal, wrapped in white butcher’s paper, and sealed with a Fasta sticker; a totally mellow experience. What’s more, the pasta is so tender and delicate after it is cooked that I don’t want to cover the silky ribbons with a heavy sauce.
No, I toss the fresh noodles with a bit of olive oil and pile them high with vegetables and herbs of the season sautéed in infused garlic or rosemary oil. Then, if I’m feeling decadent, I drop a handful of grated Romano or slices of chevre onto the warm linguine and get ready for a delicious meltdown. In retrospect, I wish I had kept a list of each combination that graced our pasta over the past year. But, it doesn’t really matter because all were simply delicious and deliciously simple.
Speaking of simple and seasonal, this is prime time for sugar snaps and snow peas. Truth be told, I eat most of my garden sugar snaps raw, right off the vine, as I pick them for the evening meal. The rest are steamed quickly in water, spritzed with tamari, and gobbled up.
But I had a few spare minutes the other day, started web surfing, and came away with two treasures. First, was the expression ”mange tout” (pronounced “mawnzh TOO)”, French for “eat everything”. The French (and others, it appears) refer to sugar snap peas and snow peas as “mange-tout” because both the pod and seed are eaten, according to food.com’s kitchen dictionary. (This was the first I’d seen the idiom. Perfect phrase, although I would like to know the French translation for “eat everything while still in the garden,” but I doubt the French are so unrefined.
The second treasure was a suggestion to roast “mange-tout” as a change of pace from steaming.
I love roasting everything from asparagus and garlic scapes to tomatoes and sweet potatoes, but sugar snaps? Well, let me tell you, as with everything, sweet gets sweeter with roasting.
Rinse and trim sugar snap peas. Toss with 1 teaspoon of sesame oil and a sprinkling of sea salt, and spread in a single layer on a baking pan (this is the hardest part of the recipe, and, as my “chef-phew” would say, “dead simple.”) Place in a 475-degree oven for 5 minutes, turn over and roast another 5 minutes, until tender and lightly browned. Watch carefully. In the meantime, toast a tablespoon of sesame seeds in a dry frying pan until golden. Remove roasted mange-tout from oven, place on a platter and sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds. Serve warm, alone, or tossed with pasta. As my dear Italian grandmother would say, “Mangia”. –Laurie Lynch