I’m not exactly a fan of foraging, unless it’s around the fridge at midnight when I’m hankering for a snack. I mostly hate how trendy it seems to have become now. Pretentious foodies trying to make you feel guilty about popping to Sainsbury’s Local for a bag of rocket when you could “Totally go and gather it from the local meadow, which is literally bursting with the joys of Spring.” I don’t know about you but I don’t have the time or patience to spend the day picking enough leaves for one measly salad, which are probably covered in dog pee anyway (I know nobody over the age of 5 says pee, but the Mother is reading this so gotta keep it clean). The hypocrisy of it all is what gets to me, so called foragers #GettingBackToNature, while documenting the experience on instragram from their IPhone 5. Food should unite and be enjoyed, never used as a tool to make others feel less ‘cool’. Pipe down and let me enjoy my overpriced, prepackaged veg in peace.
Having said that I do like wild garlic. My enjoyment of aforementioned food was enough to drag me round to the local church garden for a spot of “foraging” on a warm Sunday afternoon. While doing the deed I did feel a wee bit guilty. I mean I was basically stealing from God, which isn’t really cool is it…but I was pretty sure that when God saw the dish I was going create with his wonderous weeds all would be forgiven.
I’ve always loved Italian food, ever since I was a nipper. It’s the key ingredients that get me going…ripe juicy tomatoes, delicious creamy buffalo mozzarella or sharp nutty Parmesan coupled with a few torn basil leaves or fresh oregano and a drizzle of oil and I am literally in heaven. Never mind the fact that they invented the pizza, my favorite food and pasta too. Jesus, they have got it all going on, I should probably think about relocating to Italy.
Making pasta = satisfaction guaranteed. From just 2 simple ingredients, which even the most basic of kitchens probably have kicking about you can create a dish which is far greater than the sum of it’s parts. You don’t really even need any fancy equipment either. A pasta machine does make the task of rolling much easier but you can easily get away with a rolling pin and a bit of patience if you need to. For example half way through I realised that I had misplaced my ravioli cutters in one of my many recent flat moves and was able to improvise with a couple of washed out alphabetti spaghetti tins (another favourite of mine, I bet the Italians wouldn’t be too impressed).
If you can’t be bothered to forage then you can still try this recipe, just swap the quantity of wild garlic for the same amount of chives and chuck in a small garlic clove too. Bob will, as they say, be your uncle.
N.B. All of the good pictures below were kindly taken by my lovely friend Andrew Jackson, the rubbish ones by the lovely me, thanks Jacko, you rock!
Asparagus & pecorino ravioli with wild garlic pesto
200g 00’ flour, or pasta flour
2 large eggs
polenta, for dusting
Small pack fine asparagus tips
50g finely grated pecorino or Parmesan cheese
1 small red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
chopped soft herbs, about 2 tbsp, such as chervil, chives, parsley or tarragon
2 tbsp mascarpone, soft cheese or crème frache
2 tbsp toasted pine nuts
about 25g wild garlic, flowers removed
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
50g finely grated pecorino or Parmesan cheese
zest and juice ½ lemon
1 Make the pasta; in a food processor pulse the flour and egg until the mix looks like damp couscous or breadcrumbs. Tip out and knead gently for a few minutes until you have a smooth, soft but not sticky dough. Wrap in cling film and rest in the fridge for at least 20 minutes.
2 Snap the tips of the asparagus, about the top inch, and set aside. Finely chop the stems and tip into a bowl with the rest of the filling ingredients, season.
3 Blitz all the pesto ingredients in a food processor or mini chopper adding enough water to form a spoonable consistency. Season.
4 Roll out the pasta to the second thinnest setting using a machine. With a rolling pin work on a lightly floured surface and roll until you can see your hand through when you lift the pasta sheet on top. Keep any pasta covered with a damp tea towel while you work to stop it drying out. Cut out circles (the size of a small alphabetti or baked bean can). You need about 24 circles in total, re roll the scraps if you need to.
5 Place a teaspoon of filling into the middle of each circle; brush the outside of the circle with a little water using a pastry brush. Place another circle on top, and seal making sure to remove all the air while you seal, or they will burst while cooking.
6 Transfer to a tray lined with polenta and loosely cover with cling film, leave for about 20 minutes to dry out a little. Meanwhile heat a large pan of salted water. Once boiling tip in the pasta and cook for 1 minute, then add the asparagus tips and cook for about 2-3 minutes more, until the ravioli is tender. Tip into a colander and put the pan back on the heat. Add the pesto, heat through then return the pasta and coat in the pesto. Divide between two plates, garnish with the flowers and serve with extra Pecorino or Parmesan, if you like.