Thursday, May 14, 2009

Eat your greens.

I love lettuce and greens in all their various forms, but I will admit - I'm not great about using them at home. I tend to stick with romaine, which serves me for my meal-sized salads (a dinner eaten at least twice a week chez Queenie) as well as my smaller, side-salad creations.

Anything else I buy tends to sit in the fridge till it wilts enough to become completely unappealing. Such behavior is a waste of food and money, and so I've stopped pretending and mainly get my lettuce varietal fixes elsewhere.

That said, when I saw some fresh pea greens at the market last week, I couldn't pass them by. I love their sharp little bite and the crunch of the stems, and I thought they'd be the perfect thing alongside the duck leg I'd bought on the other side of the park. I did a little thinking, picked up a container of fresh fettuccine, and made my way back uptown.

When I got home, I chopped some shallot and a little garlic, seasoned and seared the duck leg (which I then popped in the oven to finish cooking), and sauteed half the pea shoots in a tiny bit of olive oil. I lined the pasta bowl with the other pea shoots (still raw), topped it with the fettucine and cooked greens, and placed the duck leg on top of it all. A shower of chives and a bit of salt and pepper later, lunch was ready!

Fresh Fettuccine with Pea Greens and Duck

1 duck leg, skin-side seasoned with salt and pepper
3 tsp. olive oil, separated
1 small shallot, minced
1 garlic clove, sliced
2 loosely-packed cups pea greens, separated
1 tbs. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. honey
2 tbs. dry white wine (or dry Vermouth)
1/4 cup finely chopped chives
1/4 lb. frsh fettucine, cooked according to package instructions
1/2 tbs. unsalted butter
Salt and pepper, to taste

Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. In a small skillet set over high heat, heat 1 tsp. of the olive oil for a minute or two. Place the duck leg in the skillet, skin-side down, and let sear on high heat for a minute, then reduce heat to medium and continue to cook for three to four more minutes, until the skin is dark brown and crispy. Turn the leg over and transfer the skillet to the oven. Cook for 10 minutes, then remove from oven and let sit while you prepare the pasta.

In a medium skillet set over medium-high heat, saute the shallots in two teaspoons of the olive oil until transluscent, about one minute. Add the garlic and saute for a minute more. Add the pea greens and chives and saute for two minutes, or until wilted. Add the mustard & honey to the pan and stir into the greens, shallots and garlic, until both are evenly distributed. Cook for two minutes, then add the wine.

Stir briskly, making sure you get any good brown bits from the pottom of the skillet incorporated into the sauce, then turn the heat down until the pasta is ready. Once pasta is ready, drain (Do NOT rinse!) and add to the skillet. Turn the heat to medium and cook the pasta and sauce together for a few minutes, stirring to distribute the sauce throughout the pasta. Add the butter stir once or twice to incorporate, and turn off the heat.

Line your plate with the remaining pea greens, top with the pasta, and place the duck leg on top. Sprinkle the remaining chives over everything, season to taste, and eat!

Serves one, generously. I've made this recipe a few times this month, usually with fresh fettuccine. Last week, I used spaghetti - which works really well, too - so don't feel beholden to the fresh pasta rule!

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