Black Pepper Linguine with Spring Vegetables, Goat Cheese and Sausage

Black Pepper Linguine with Spring Vegetables, Goat Cheese and Sausage – otherwise known as I just had to make dinner from the stuff I bought at the farmers’ market this morning.  If anyone out there is still a doubting Thomas about whether or not food is better when it’s local and in season this dinner will quell any remaining doubts.  There’s just nothing like asparagus that was cut from a place less than an hour from your house the day before you eat it.  Amazing.  Truly.

This was so good it’s hard to know where to start.  Let’s start with the vegetables.  Spring asparagus just can’t be beat.  I can’t wait to eat the rest of the bunch.  You can assume that you’ll see that in a post tomorrow.  I also got some early peas at the market this morning.  This is the only time of year that I eat green peas.  I only eat them when they are fresh and local.  I shelled them about 30 minutes before I cooked them.  The key with vegetables this good is to not ruin them with overcooking.  Blanch them in boiling water for about 2 minutes and then transfer them to an ice water bath.  That will stop the cooking and preserve that beautiful bright green color.

Now on to the sausage, cheese and pasta – all from the farmers’ market.  The pasta is Bombolini‘s black pepper linguine.  I did get this at the farmers’ market, but not today.  I’ve had it in the freezer for a while.  Here’s the key to cooking fresh pasta that you’ve frozen – don’t thaw it.  Put it in the boiling water frozen.  It will cook in 3 minutes or so.  If you thaw it first you’ll have gummy pasta.  Gross.  The goat cheese is local too, but I’m embarassed to say that I forgot to make note of the maker.  I’ll add it later.  This cheese is in a style much like Brie. It’s very creamy and a touch bitter. 

 Now about the sausage – absolutely beyond words.  I got it from Sausage Craft and these boys know how the sausage is made.  I got the Della Nonna sausage which is extra special this time of year.  It’s a pork sausage with pecorino cheese mixed in and usually with parsley I believe.  This time of year they use ramps instead of parsley.  Oh happy day!  Ramps are only available in the early Spring so you have to eat as many as you can before they disappear.  Of course you should sit apart from other people then. The garlic and onion flavor is fantastic, but it’s strong.  In this sausage it’s perfection.  This is a sausage that has a complex flavor that’s not all about salt.  Yum.  There are a bunch of places in Central Virginia where you can sample this wonderful stuff.  Check out the list!  And even better these guys donate their product to the local food bank.  Eat well – do good.  Nice job Sausage Craft!

So there you have it.  That’s everything I used to make dinner tonight. Just five ingredients and it’s the best meal I’ve had in ages.  Sweet green vegetables with peppery pasta, garlicky sausage and just enough bitter, creamy cheese to add a wonderful smoothness to everything.  All the flavor you could possibly want and it came together in about 20 minutes.  Perfect.  You could absolutely leave out the sausage to make this a vegetarian dish if you prefer.

If you’ve been eating vegetables trucked or flown in from hundreds or thousands of miles away this is your opportunity to improve your game.  It’s Spring and Summer is on the way.  That means fantastic fruit and vegetables from nearby.  Find a farmers’ market asap and treat your family while you support a local farm family!

Good? Good doesn’t even begin to cover it. Beyond amazing.
Easy? When the ingredients are this good you don’t have to do much.
Good for company? Absolutely.
Special shopping? Shop in season. Seriously.

Black Pepper Linguine with Spring Vegetables, Goat Cheese and Sausage


5-6 stalks fresh asparagus, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 1/2-2 C fresh early peas, shelled (about 2/3 C peas after they’re shelled)
4-5 oz artisanal sausage
1 oz creamy goat cheese
2 small twists fresh black pepper linguine


Cut sausage into 1 inch pieces and cook in a skillet. Set aside.
Boil water in a pasta pot. Add asparagus and peas. Cook 2 minutes. Remove vegetables from water and immediately transfer to a bowl filled with ice water. Chill 1 minute and then drain. Bring water back to a boil. Add linguine. Cook 2-3 minutes until al dente, adding vegetables back to the water for the last 20-30 seconds. Ladle out about 1/2 cup of the pasta water and set aside. Drain pasta and vegetables into a colander. Return them to the pasta pot. Add sausage and cheese with just enough of the reserved water to make a sauce with the cheese.


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