PASTA WITH WILD GARLIC & SPINACH SALSA VERDE & GOAT’S CHEESE

 

What could be simpler on a warm evening, when you’re fed up with salad and have little time, than pasta with a salsa verde (green sauce)? Now traditionally Italian green sauces are made from herbs, usually flat leaf parsley, but it can be made with whatever ‘greenery’ you have at hand. In my case wild garlic, spinach and rocket with a little fresh oregano and chives.

 

I’m a little late to the wild garlic party this year but there are still plenty of plants with bigger leaves to be found and the flowers and stems are good to use too especially when you’re making a sauce. If you find you’ve missed the free garlic then use a couple of crushed cloves of garlic and top up the green element with other free foraged leaves. Lots of options now nature has sprung into action including white deadnettle, young ground elder leaves, wild rocket (of course) which can be foraged, grown or bought. Also try common chickweed, jack-by-the-hedge (garlic-mustard) and dandelions (young leaves are best and an idea is to find plants coming through in Spring and cover with a pot to blanch and force them like we do with rhubarb). There are lots of sites online that shows you what to pick and what to avoid but the choice is endless.

 

I use dried pasta, as many Italians do, but feel free to make your own if you fancy the idea and from start to table/lap we’re looking at 15 minutes.

Ingredients:

1 medium onion-finely chopped

Several large handfuls of wild garlic (or green alternative and a couple of crushed garlic cloves)

Several handfuls of spinach

A couple of handfuls of rocket

Fresh oregano and chives or flat leaf parsley

Virgin olive oil-or oil of choice

Salt & pepper

Dried pasta-amount to vary depending on numbers

Grated hard goat’s cheese or vegan alternative (or omit altogether)

Method:

Soften the onion in 2tblsp oil, when transparent add chopped greens and herbs, adding a couple of spoonful’s of water although the spinach will release quite a lot of moisture when cooked. Meanwhile put the pasta on to cook, I won’t insult you by adding measurements and timings but do make sure the salted water is at a rolling boil before you add the pasta. Don’t overcook but it does need to be soft enough to eat but not so soft that it falls apart. Trial and error is the way forward.

When the green sauce is cooked down enough you can add a splash of white wine or vermouth, cooking it for a few minutes to cook out the alcohol, however adding either of these are personal choices as I don’t think it needs it. Season to taste. Add the pasta to the sauce, this is the Italian way, and stir together. Traditionally the pasta is just coated in the sauce, it doesn’t sit in a pool of sauce because the pasta is the star of the dish.

Spoon into bowls, pour over a little more virgin olive oil, top with grated coat’s cheese and finely chopped herbs if desired.

It’s simple, tasty, quick and cheap what’s not to like.