Weekly Mash Up: Brunch Inspiration, CSA Bounty No. 1, Wave Hill and a Picnic Pasta

We have entered the final countdown.  I'm full-term in a few days and that means the arrival of No. 2 is just around the corner. Eek. Yay. Eek. 
This past weekend Otis spent a night with his grandparents so that my husband and I could use a gift certificate for The Grocery in Carroll Gardens. We had a leisurely three hour dinner and the meal was delicious.  It had tons of local, seasonal ingredients that were bursting with flavor. Some highlights included: a chilled potato leek soup and hot potato croquettes; a fabulous radish salad with white beans, radicchio and an amazing vinaigrette; a seafood bread salad and a guinea hen for my husband; a seasonal mixed vegetable plate that would have taken me ten hours to assemble and fried artichoke. Wondering about dessert? Buttermilk panna cotta with hibiscus sorbet and citrus slices. I was stuffed! 
On Saturday we picked up our first CSA share. YIPPEE!
We got arugula (I'm going to make another batch of this pesto), garlic scapes (perfect in hummus), radishes (I'm going to recreate The Grocery salad mentioned above), bok choi, kale (perfect for Heidi Swanson's Kale and Farrow Salad) and a big bag of baby lettuce. 
After picking up our CSA bounty we decided to go to our favorite brunch spot-- Diner.   The 'Scone of the Day' was sliced in half and served with Devonshire cream and strawberry rhubarb compote.  It was delicious.  The Omelette of the Day was packed with market spinach and a garlic scape herbed goat cheese.  I nearly died and went to heaven!
Then it was off to The Renegade Art Festival.  I made a few purchases for No. 2 and purchased some tea towels I just had to have...
On Sunday, on the way to my father's birthday dinner, we made a little stop to Wave Hill for some late spring blooms...
[Some of you might recall that this is where I got married.  I also grew up a few blocks away. It's one of my favorite places in New York City.  Maybe even the world :) ]

For more Wave Hill photos click this post and this post:  
Now it feels like summer has really arrived: gardens are blooming, farmer's markets are full of the season's bounty and our CSA has started up again. This pasta salad is perfect for a summer picnic. It has lemon zest, arugula, asparagus and simple seasoning with salt and pepper. Enjoy!
Gemelli with Asparagus, Ricotta, Arugula and Lemon Zest (Courtesy of J. Kenji Lopez-Alt for Serious Eats in a Food Lab article on 'New Ways to Cook Pasta.')   
Serves 6
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound asparagus, trimmed, peeled, and cut into 1-inch pieces
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 pound of gemelli, fusilli, rotini or any other medium-thickness short pasta
1 cup fresh ricotta cheese
1 tablespoon zest from 1 lemon
2 cups loosely packed baby arugula leaves
2 ounces finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese, plus more for serving tableside


  • Heat oil in large heavy-bottomed sauce pot over high heat until just starting to smoke. Add asparagus pieces and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender-crisp and lightly browned. Season asparagus to taste with salt and pepper, transfer to bowl, and set aside. Do not clean sauce pot.
  • In a medium saucepan, bring 2 quarts of water and 1 teaspoon kosher salt to a boil over high heat.  Add pasta and stir immediately.  Allow to return to a boil, stir once vigorously, cover pot, and shut off heat.  After one minute, stir one last time. Recover pot. Follow timing on box as a general guide for cooking timeโ€”start checking pasta 2 minutes before suggested cooking time and continue checking every minute until proper al dente texture is reached.  Pasta should be fully softened, but retain a slight bite in the center. Drain pasta, reserving 2 cups of cooking liquid.  Immediately transfer pasta to empty sauce pot from cooking asparagus. [* This is a great way to cook pasta.  It came out perfectly.  I'm a convert!] 
  • Add asparagus, ricotta, lemon zest, arugula, grated cheese, and a few big twists of black pepper to the pasta. Add 1 cup pasta water and stir until all ingredients are combined and arugula has wilted. Continue adding pasta water until desired consistency is reached (the ricotta should turn into a creamy sauce that coats the noodles). Season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve immediately, passing more grated cheese at the table.