How To Make Our Favorite Spring Dishes
In Hunterdon County, spring is the time of bounty, and there’s absolutely no reason not to eat what’s local – and by local, we mean within mere miles – and in-season. And while there are countless dishes we make during these months that share the tastes of spring, it wouldn’t quite be the season without asparagus soup topped with a slice of toasted baguette capped with a poached egg; and pappardelle with pancetta, petite peas and ricotta.
Many of us equate both pastas and soups with fall or winter, but in reality, these light, nuanced versions of their hearty brethren stand out in the spring, especially when local, fresh ingredients are used. There’s just something divine about fresh pappardelle made by hand using local eggs and local flour; sliced slab bacon from a local hog; and house-made ricotta from milk sourced from cows a mere bicycle ride away.
Each spring, we grow our own asparagus and also source from local farms including Valley Crest Farm Stand on the corner of Route 31 North and Allerton Road in Clinton Township. This week, we did just that.
Plenty of us eat asparagus year-round. However, to us, there’s nothing like tasting a true taste of the earth in the heart of spring, with vibrant and verdant flavors like the scent of a freshly-plowed field.
To make our asparagus soup, we combine these sensations with some chicken stock and a dash of sour cream. Then, we sprinkle freshly chopped red bell pepper, a twist of salt and pepper and what results is a dish that epitomizes the season and keeps us cooking it year after year. Then, we pair it with either our Pinot Gris or our Riesling.
Pappardelle with pancetta, petite peas and ricotta
Every spring we are reminded how much we love pappardelle with pancetta, petite peas and ricotta, as if the first time we make it each season tastes like the first time, ever. Last weekend for a private wine luncheon here, it tasted like the first time, again.
It’s a mix of the savory from the pancetta, the sweet from the peas and the creamy from the ricotta, all on a bed of ethereal, handmade pasta to result in a light yet satisfying meal.
Due to the plethora of farms in Hunterdon County, especially along the Hunterdon 579 Trail, we have plenty of spots to source from, including pancetta from Mundy Farm in Pittstown; milk for ricotta from Spring Run Dairy in Pittstown; and eggs and flour from Living Lands in Pittstown.
Some of our favorite wines to pair the pappardelle with pancetta, petite peas and ricotta with include our Pinot Gris or our Blaufrankisch.
If you’re interested in trying these dishes at our farm for yourself or getting a taste of other spring favorites, contact us at 908-735-9359 or email@example.com to plan your own private event.
Asparagus with Poached Egg
Serves four for lunch or light supper
- 1 lbs. Fresh Green Asparagus, ends trimmed, cut into pieces (see note under step 1. below)
- 3/4 C. Yellow Onion, chopped
- 2 Shallots, thinly sliced
- 2 T. Unsalted Butter
- 1 T. Olive Oil
- ½ t. Caraway Seeds
- 1 t. Sweet Paprika
- 1 t. Alpine Seasoning (or use Salt)
- A few grindings of Black Pepper
- 2 C. Chicken Stock (vegetable stock OK)
- 2 C. Water
- 1/2 C. Sour Cream
- 1 T. Fresh Dill Fronds, lightly minced
- ½ Sweet Red Pepper, chopped
- 4 Farm Fresh Eggs
For the Soup:
- Add the butter and olive oil to a large pot and, when melted, sauté the onion and shallots
until translucent, then add the asparagus, caraway and paprika. Cook for about 5 minutes,
or until the asparagus softens.
NOTE: It is perfectly acceptable, even recommended, that you remove the top 1/3 of each
asparagus stalk (the tip) and reserve for another purpose, and instead use only the
remainder for this recipe. In any case, be sure to discard the fibrous bottom part.
- Add the chicken stock, water and season with salt and pepper; bring to a boil and then
simmer gently for 15 minutes, or until the asparagus is very soft.
- Use a ladle to transfer the pot’s contents to a blender and puree until smooth; you may
need to blend in batches, if your blender is not large enough (or use an immersion blender,
if you have one). Return the pureed soup to the pot.
- Add the sour cream to a 2 C. (16 oz.) measuring cup or bowl and stir-in 1-2 T. of the hot
soup; add more in the same increments, stirring each time to gradually raise the
temperature of the sour cream (don’t skip this step, or the sour cream will curdle). When
you have 2 C. of the sour cream and soup mixture, add it to the pot of soup along with the
dill fronds; stir to incorporate everything. Scatter chopped red pepper over the surface (or
concentrated on top of poached egg, if using). You can serve immediately (it will be warm)
or refrigerate it and serve it cold.
For the Poached Eggs (Optional, but Worth the Extra Step):
- Just before serving the soup, bring a pot of water to a boil, then turn to a gentle simmer.
- Carefully open the eggs – do not break the yolks – over a strainer that sits over a bowl;
gently swirl the eggs in the strainer until the excess water drains away leaving just the yolks
and the viscous whites.
- Confirm the water is simmering and then carefully slide each egg – one at a time – into the
pot. Cook for 3½ minutes, then gently remove each egg using a slotted spoon to drain on a
- Immediately serve the soup to bowls, gently placing poached eggs on top or – as we prefer
– balance it atop a piece of toasted baguette that is floating on the surface.
NOTE: Eggs can be poached using this method and stored in water in the refrigerator for up to
3 days. Just before serving, rewarm them in simmering water for just 30 seconds so they don’t
- Accompany the Asparagus Soup and Poached Egg with sliced and toasted Rye or a Parisian style
baguette. Season with salt and pepper at the table. Consider pairing this dish with crisp white
wine, such as our Dry Riesling or Grüner Veltliner, or our Cabernet Franc Rosé.
Fresh Pappardelle With Panetta, Peas & Ricotta Sauce
Serves four for a Pasta Course
- 1 C. White, unbleached flour
- 2 Large Eggs
- 1 T. Salt (for pasta water)
- 1⁄4 Lbs. Pancetta (smoked bacon, preferably lean slab)
- 1 Lbs. Petit Peas, fresh ideally but fresh OK
- 1⁄4 Lbs. Ricotta, ideally fresh but store-bought OK
- 1 T. Unsalted butter
- 1⁄2 C. Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese
- Salt, Freshly ground black pepper
- Make fresh pasta dough, roll out, and cut into Pappardelle (11⁄2 to 2 inch-wide noodles, ideally
with ruffled edges). Hang to dry. Boil water.
- Slice pancetta (or bacon) into strips, about 1 1⁄2” long and 1⁄2” wide, and render gently in a
saucepan until slightly browned; if too lean, add 1 T. unsalted butter to pan. Remove all but 2
T. of rendered fat and add peas to saucepan; stir and cook for 1 – 2 minutes, just long enough
to coat the peas.
- Place the ricotta in a large bowl and mash with a fork or spoon; add 1 T. of butter, set aside.
- Boil and drain the pappardelle, transfer to bowl with ricotta and butter and toss immediately.
Add the pancetta (or bacon) and peas, the grated parmesan cheese, and season with salt and
pepper. Toss and serve immediately, with extra parmesan cheese on the table.