I regret that this is the only photo I have of the Spaghetti with Spring Onions and Sugar Snap Peas that I made on Sunday. I suppose I’m still, overall, relatively apprehensive about constantly photographing food— not to mention the fact that I am, after all, cooking.
Cooking has been a strange business for me of late. I’ve wanted to cook plenty of things, but I certainly haven’t been moved to document anything I’ve cooked for the purposes of writing about it here. I made about 12 quarts of chicken stock, which are currently residing in my refreigerator. The idea of making large quantities of chicken stock and freezing it is not a novel one at all, however, if I may offer a somewhat unique tip: purchase these 16-oz plastic containers that come in packs of 32. It’s not a life-altering tip—it’s barely a tip at all—but 16 ounces is really the perfect amount for most everyday uses. To put a finer point on it, I almost always use all of the stock whenever I defrost a pint, thus making me feel like the endeavor of making something I can buy in the store and can usually never tell the difference, is worth the effort.
Sunday’s dinner came together quite serendipitously, and was precipitated by a loud (albeit brief) public argument, but more on the argument later. Unlike most Sunday dinners, I hadn’t been planning it since the morning—in fact my visit to the farmer’s market was brief and, I thought, unfruitful. The Hollywood farmer’s market can often be overwhelming—a claustrophobic, nervous-making jumble of human elements that on the surface ought to be tranquil (these are farmer’s market people, after all) but are often, in actuality, either aggressive and pushy or so slow-moving and obnoxious that I become aggressive and pushy (well, more so). And then there is the matter of the lousy cheek-by-jowl setup of the vendor stalls—relative, that is, to the Union Square Greenmarket in New York, one of the only instances I can think of where New York has an advantage in terms of space. The fact that the Union Square Greenmarket exceeds the Hollywood Farmer’s Market in more ways than are fair to count (with the exception—speaking of counting—of cost) is worth noting because it has always been a puzzling one. The HFM is marvelous in many ways, don’t get me wrong, but one should really expect more from a farmer’s market in Los Angeles of all places. Unfortunately, and this entire section has become a side rant, the farmer’s market system in Los Angeles is completely insane: one of the main drawbacks of the Hollywood market is that it is only once a week. The city is then served by several much smaller satellite markets throughout the week, all of which differ from Hollywood in that they have far fewer good vendors, and are generally in areas with little to no parking. The Santa Monica Farmer’s Market, which is generally regarded as the flagship of the market system, suffers foremost from the fact that it is located in Santa Monica and not five minutes from my house. Furthermore, it’s open only on Wednesdays and Saturdays, which I think is so silly it really needs no further explanation.
In any case, I did make my way down to the Hollywood Market on Sunday, as I always do. I purchased Martinez Apiary honey, which I love, some parsley, lemons, two bunches of purple spring onions, and about a half a pound of fresh sugar snap peas. Oh, and flowers. I forgot about the flowers. I’m used to getting many more vegetables at the farmer’s market and spending up to a full hour rinsing and cleaning them as soon as I get home, as I know that if they’re not ready to use right out of the crisper drawer, they’re just going to sit there all week. I also got ranunculus, lilies, and snapdragons. I love the ranunculus especially because of how long and slowly they continue to bloom.
Later that day I went for a long walk around the Hollywood reservoir with J. About half-way through the hike, the subject of dinner came up. J wanted my Caesar salad with some grilled chicken, which I said I was happy to make. After realizing that it was too late to go out to the fish market in Glendale, I said I wanted to make pasta, but J protested, strongly. We shelved the argument until we reached the supermarket where her insistence on having only salad for dinner caused me to throw a box of iceberg into my cart and storm away to cool down. Soon after that, I caught up with J in the cheese section where I announced that I’d make her her Caesar and chicken and I would make pasta for myself. What I didn’t announce was that I had suddenly concocted a pasta dish that would use up my sugar snap peas and would be so irresistible that she would have no choice but to eat a bowl.
Why did I choose not to respect her wishes and simply leave well enough alone? I don’t know. Perhaps I’m just a monster, but I often find that whenever anyone suggests having merely soup, or salad as their entire dinner, a mixture of deep sadness and disgust come over me and I just cannot abide it. I cannot. As good as their reasons for wanting only soup or salad may be, as much as that may truly be all they really want or need to eat, as aware as I am that I myself sometimes want only soup or a salad for dinner, I still feel as though eschewing a full meal for either of those two things is a sort of punishment—to whom, I don’t know—an intentional withholding of something pleasurable. Ergo, my pasta plot was launched.
Once at home, I whipped up a batch of negronis and set J up in front of my HBOGO account while I set about trimming and then finely slicing the peas—a laborious task indeed. (This is the point at which I really wish I had pictures). I coddled an egg for the Caesar dressing and put the chicken in a marinade. Last week I also got sugar snaps and I also sliced the thinly and sautéed them in olive oil with chilies and some orange juice—they were delicious and earthy but sautéing alone left them too crunchy for use as a pasta dressing—perfect though for a side veg. I defrosted a pint of stock to be added to the peas, now sautéing in a pan with the chopped spring onion, and a few cloves of garlic. The peas cooked in the stock, covered, for a few minutes until they softened, then I added butter and chopped mint—the mint not only adds flavor but the burst of green offsets the dull color the cooked peas take on.
I grilled the chicken outside and whisked the Caesar together on the kitchen table, then finally tossed the spaghetti in the pea sauce. J said the chicken was the single best piece of chicken she’d ever had…and she ate the entire portion of spaghetti that I forced upon her.
Spaghetti with Spring Onions and Sugar Snap Peas
1 Lb. Spaghetti
1 Lb. Sugar Snap Peas (in shell), sliced
3 Medium Sized Spring Onions (or green onions), chopped fine
4 Cloves Garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. Unsalted Butter
1 1/2 cups Chicken Stock
- Place a pot of water over high heat to boil
- Slice the peas on an angle, as thinly as possible. Set aside.
- In a large saucepan, sauté the onions and garlic in olive oil over medium heat. Add the peas after the onions begin to soften. Stir together and cook another 2-3 minutes.
- Add chicken stock to onion/pea mixture, then cover and cook for 5 minutes. Add the pasta to the boiling water at this point.
- Once most of the stock has cooked out, whisk in the butter, and add the cooked spaghetti, reserving a cup of the cooking water.
- Toss spaghetti to coat with pea sauce, adding some of the cooking water and parmesan.
- Serve immediately.