Call Us: 508-441-4622

Poaching Kale @ Pacheco School & Peasant Spaghetti

I didn’t really think it was okay to take kale from the community gardens at Carlos Pacheco Elementary School on Mt. Pleasant Street until Averyl Andrade from Healthy Futures Farm told me it was all good.

Averyl and her husband, Nathan, participate in the Mass in Motion Farmers Market every Saturday at Clasky Common Park just down Purchase Street from Groundwork! This past Saturday was my first visit of the season. I was happy to see Averyl – especially after coming up empty produce-wise from the past few downtown Farmers Markets held every Thursday afternoon in Custom House Square Park.

Here’s the story.

A few weeks back, I went to the first Farmers Market downtown with good intentions to get the ingredients for a killer pasta primavera. Upon arrival, however, I discovered that the fresh veggies had yet to come to market! A somewhat disappointing turn of events.

While there, I ran into none other than Adam Davenport, Groundwork! member and one of the forces behind GROW Education, which is responsible for creating all of those great community gardens you see at New Bedford public schools around the city.

“Go get some kale at Carlos Pacheco school,” he told me. “It’s ready.”

The kale garden at Carlos Pacheco Elementary School. Photo courtesy of Adam Davenport.

The kale garden at Carlos Pacheco Elementary School. Photo courtesy of Adam Davenport.









I was somewhat reluctant to engage in what I considered theft. After all, I’ve seen Adam and students working the land outside the school and didn’t feel entitled to the benefits of their labor without at least donating the requisite sweat equity.

But Averyl set me straight. When I told her how good it was to see her at the Clasky Common Farmers Market after coming up short downtown, I brought up Adam’s offer. Of course, she was well-acquainted with Mr. Davenport and his partner at GROW Education, Zoe Hansen-DiBiello – the dynamic duo of urban agriculture.

“It’s really all right,” Averyl said. “It’s important to pick the produce so that it doesn’t flower and become useless. Everyone should take advantage of the community gardens in that way!”

So, my conscience was finally relieved at poaching some kale from Pacheco – and I was relieved, too that Averyl and her fellow farmers at Clasky Common had a bounty for sale Saturday morning that will keep me running through the week. (And, I found out that fresh produce will indeed be available downtown on Thursdays from now on. My colleague Erin Baker has written about the market and you can read her column here.)

To leave you today with the inspiration to check out the delicious fresh harvest of our farmers markets and community gardens, here’s my recipe for Peasant Spaghetti using Averyl’s fresh basil and garlic. It’s simple, fresh and easy – and for me, represents a giant leap forward from Men’s Fitness magazine’s “A Man; A Can; A Plan” recipe book!

1) Get your pasta water boiling; add sea salt but never olive oil to the water. When it’s boiling, add your whole wheat spaghetti.

2) While pasta is cooking, gently simmer freshly peeled garlic in a generous amount of olive oil. You don’t want to brown it, but let it dissolve into the oil.

3) Chop fresh Italian parsley and pull apart basil leaves while the garlic is releasing its flavor.

4) When the pasta is done – and you want it al dente – turn off the flame on the oil and garlic and use tongs to remove the spaghetti from the water and place it into the garlic. Then, turn the heat on again low and swirl everything together. You want the pasta to cook a little more and absorb the oil and flavor. Add some of the pasta water with a ladle if it looks dry.

5) Turn off the flame again and introduce the parsley and basil into the pan. Swirl some more and you’re done. Dust with some grated Parmesan cheese if you’re not a vegan. (I can go vegetarian but I’ll buy my own cow before I give up cheese!)

And that’s it – the grown-up version of an undergrad’s Ramen noodles.

I expect I’ll owe Adam, Averyl and Zoe a dish before summer’s over!

Steven Froias