Leaf buds

Spring is lingering where we live. Tree leaves budded out months ago, but the weather has stayed cool, brooding even. Tonight at sunset a thick layer of marine fog poured over the Santa Cruz Mountains and tucked our neighborhood beneath a downy comforter of clouds.

By my reckoning, it’s entirely too calm and peaceful for the raucous celebration that’s in order. Yesterday our niece was born! From the iPhone snapshot her momma sent, she has the most perfect rosebud lips and eyes full of astonishment. Her name is Mary Oliveve—Olive for short.

As if in honor of Olive’s arrival, on Sunday Mike and I saw two freckled fawns crossing the street on shaky legs. Like that, the world is new.

A quote shared by her proud father perhaps says it best:

“If one feels the need of something grand, something infinite, something that makes one feel aware of God, one need not go far to find it. I think that I see something deeper, more infinite, more eternal than the ocean in the expression of the eyes of a little baby, when it wakes in the morning and coos or laughs because it sees the sun shining on its cradle.”

—Vincent Van Gogh

In a season when newborns blink at the bright dawn, peppermint shoots skyward, and snap peas still dally on the vine, only one recipe seemed right to commemorate the occasion. It’s nothing fancy but captures the freshness and newness of the day. Molly, Tommy, and Olive: Congratulations.

Mint, snap peas, and pistachios

Pasta with Fava Beans, Snap Peas, and Trapanese Pesto

Recipe adapted from Raspberry Eggplant and Cooking with Amy

I love the ingredients in the original recipe from blogger Raspberry Eggplant, but I found the pesto so overwhelmingly minty that I nearly mistook it for Aquafresh toothpaste. So on a second attempt, I replaced it with a fantastic and more subtly fresh trapanese pesto sauce from Cooking with Amy.

Serves 4

For the pasta
1 lb fresh fava beans
1 lb small short pasta (e.g., orecchiete)
1 lb sugar snap peas

For the pesto
1/4 – 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil (depending on how thick you like it)
1/2 cup mint leaves
1 cup basil leaves (about one bunch)
1/4 cup blanched almonds (pistachios are also good)
1/2 cup grated pecorino cheese
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1/4 teaspoon chili flakes
Salt and pepper

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Remove the fava beans from their pods and trim and string the sugar snap peas, cutting larger pods in half.

Add the beans to the water and cook for 1 minute. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the beans to an ice bath. Return the water to a boil and blanch the sugar snap peas for 1-2 minutes.  Transfer the peas to an ice bath.

When the beans are cool, drain them and remove them from their shells by pinching off the end of the shell and popping the beans out. Set the shelled beans aside.

Add more salt to the water and return it to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to package directions.

While the pasta is cooking, make the pesto. Place the almonds, garlic, and chili in a food processor and pulse just until roughly chopped. Add the mint, basil, and cheese and pulse again briefly until everything is blended. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil. The texture should be chunky, not finely pureed, and about as thick as tomato paste (you will loosen it later with pasta water). Add salt and pepper to taste.

When the pasta is done, reserve 1 cup of the cooking water, then drain the pasta and transfer it to a large bowl. Add 1/2 cup of the cooking water to the pesto and mix to combine. Add the pesto, fava beans, and sugar snap peas to the bowl and toss to combine. Add more cooking water, if necessary, to thin the pesto into a sauce that coats all the other components. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Spring-inspired pasta and carrot mash