Tag Archives: Basil

Wild Herb Pasta

If you enjoy making fresh pasta and would like to inject some herbal magic into your creations, this recipe may interest you. Fresh herb leaves are blended through the pasta as it is repeatedly rolled in a pasta machine.

I heard about incorporating basil in this way from a colleague, who’d been to an Italian cooking workshop. I’ve made pasta with nettle juice before but find that quite a slow process so I thought I’d try it this way but incorporating some unusual foraged and pot grown herbs.

This method is very easy, it just takes a little more time than regular pasta making. I’ve no idea if this is how the Italian workshop prescribed it but this way certainly works and produces very herby pasta!

If you don’t know how to make pasta I recommend Jamie Oliver’s method. It’s very simple and works for me everytime:

A. Basically fork 4 eggs into 400g of tipo00 flour.
B. Do what you can with the fork then knead it thoroughly with your hands.
C. Wrap in clingfilm, or similar and refrigerate for 2 hours or so.

Whilst it settles in the fridge, get foraging! I used garlic mustard, basil, ground elder and parsley when I took these photos. Use what you have available. Curley Parsley was a challenge to incorporate but it eventually broke down well and tasted great. The other herbs broke down very quickly. Obviously, use herbs which are safe for you and your guests. Basil for instance is often avoided by pregnant women. A small quantity is unlikely to harm but be aware that even seemingly innocuous culinary herbs, can be very potent.

Now, how to incorporate the herbs…

1. As you progressively roll your pasta dough in the usual way, through a pasta machine, or by hand with a rolling pin, simply lay a few herb leaves down the middle of the pasta sheet.

2. Fold over the two sides to cover the herbs.

3. Continue running the dough through the increasingly narrow pasta machine. Each run through, will break down the herbs. Eventually tiny fragments will be distributed throughout the entire pasta sheet – it’s quite extraordinary to watch it happen!

4. Keep going until the pasta dough is as thin a you like and cut or process it as you wish.

I always make heaps of pasta (6 eggs, 600g flour), we then eat a hearty pasta meal and freeze the rest in portion sized containers, when still fresh and just dry enough to handle.

Japanese knotweed, sweet sour yoghurt.

I so enjoyed harvesting, cooking and eating Japanese knotweed today, for the first time in my life.

I found several patches of the plant locally and harvested using a small knife, in much the same way as you would asparagus, except above the ground. The more mature stems were hollow, younger ones were very like asparagus within. Some had thin stems, some fat. I harvested young shoots, about 6 to 8 inches long, took them home, stripped away the leaves and thoroughly washed the stems before chopping them and boiling for 5 minutes in a little water.

The taste was very rhubarby; tart, sour and in need of some sweet. Once cooled a little, I mashed the soft stewed stems with a little banana, homemade yoghurt, a dab of honey and a good pinch each of ground ginger and cinnamon. When combined to my liking, I served in a small bowl and garnished with torn basil leaves.

The outside of the knotweed was more fibrous than I had expected so next time, I shall either push the stewed stems through a fine sieve or pulverize them with a blender, before mixing with the other ingredients. Stringiness aside, this is a delicious dessert! Maida Silverwood’s book proposes freezing stewed knotweed and I shall certainly have a go at that, when I find more of it. I will also keep an eye on how the cut stems repair at my harvesting spot.

Please be aware of the rules for rhizome disposal for this plant in your locality. In some countries it is a criminal offense to allow spread of the plant by careless disposal of the roots.

The roots were apparently used in ancient Chinese medicine for menstrual and post partum problems. It is certainly very astringent to taste and thus must have a drying, constricting effect on the body, at least to some extent.

I’ll do some research into the similarities with rhubarb and more historic medicinal uses. It is truly delicious and if you are a rhubarb fan I am quite certain you could also come to love Japanese knotweed.

Herbes de Provence

D’un Goût à l’Autre
Meal at D’un Goût à l’Autre.

Nyons, in Drôme Provence, France is famous for award winning olives and delicious wines.  During my recent holiday there I enjoyed some great herby meals and bought two local specimens to add to the kitchen balcony. One restaurant stood out because of its use of local herbs. D’un Goût à l’Autre has several dishes on its menu which make an eye catching and delicious feature of fresh herbs.  Continue reading Herbes de Provence