Even though I will eat food way out of season--yes, even tomatoes! and yes, I persist in finding something that tastes good about them--I love reading Alice Waters's descriptions of the perfect, perfect thing at the perfect, perfect moment. But she's a little bit scary with her absolutism, no? I have always been too intimidated by the Chez Panisse Menu Cookbook to cook from it. A shocking number of recipes begin with instructions like "remove the pigeons' feet and heads," and this is a little more hard-core and authentic than I'm ready to be. Sunday morning, though, I noticed a pasta recipe that looked easy enough: buckwheat pasta with rocket and goat cheese.
You'll forgive me for using soba instead of making my own buckwheat pasta as suggested. There were two things I loved about this simple preparation: it came together in about 30 minutes of easy work by one person, and it bridges the gap between stick-to-your-ribs satisfying (cream, goat cheese, chewy noodles) and springtime lightness (haricots verts, arugula).
Gosh, I always feel pretentious writing or saying haricots verts.
I also got to buy one of those Coach Farm cheese buttons that are always so tempting. Those are the Coach Farm goats up there! The leftover cheese and arugula made a yummy salad the next day.
to serve 2 (with other courses, could serve 3 or 4):
6 oz. soba noodles
1/4 lb. haricots verts
1 cup half-and-half (N.B. book calls for cream, but half-and-half was fine)
1.5 oz. soft, plain goat cheese
2 handfuls of arugula
salt and pepper
1. Put water on to boil for soba and haricots verts. I used two pots, but you could use one, doing the beans first, lifting them out, then throwing the pasta in the still-boiling bean water.
2. While water comes to a boil, heat half-and-half (or cream) over medium-low flame, until it has reduced slightly (5 minutes? I'm not at all sure I followed this step correctly). Off-heat, whisk in goat cheese to make a smooth sauce.
3. Blanch haricots, 2 or 3 minutes, then chop into whatever size pleases you.
4. Cook soba according to package directions.
5. Toss soba, cheese sauce, and beans with 2 handfuls of (still uncooked) arugula. Salt and pepper to taste and serve in big bowls.