I do love the late spring and early summer vibe, when hope and abundance abound. The grass is green, the hedgerows and verges are bursting with life and stunning wild flowers, and we are able to watch Mother Nature’s flower show as it unfolds like a picture gallery. Daffodils make way for tulips, alliums soon follow, and then the roses, peonies and other earl summer blooms appear, creating a stunning canvas of vibrant colour.
I enjoy walking along country lanes at this time of year, and using my senses to feel totally immersed in the little moments. It feels so meditative and restorative to just ‘be’ in the landscape, just like the animals, birds and insects, and of course the flora. When we take time to notice, we realise how much magic abounds in Nature. Wild garlic grows in woodland areas from late winter until around June, and I recently came across some growing near my family home in Yorkshire. Unfortunately I couldn’t reach it so well, as it was growing on a steep verge, but I managed to forage a little, just enough to take home and create a new recipe with it.
As the late spring and early summer period brings longer and warmer days, we prefer to eat simple and easy to prepare meals like this pasta dish, using seasonal ingredients such as wild garlic. I made this up as I went along, using some of my favourite ingredients such as lemons, nuts, tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, and chilli flakes. It was a pleasure to use my handful of foraged wild garlic leaves and flowers; they offer beauty of form, taste and colour…the verdant colour of summer. If you can’t forage any wild garlic, or the season is over, experiment with other greens, either leaves or vegetables. Cooking is all about being creative, imaginative, and ideally using ingredients that are in season.
To serve 2-3 people:
225 g spaghettini or regular spaghetti
A fat garlic clove, thinly sliced
Two handfuls of toasted hazelnuts, slightly crushed with a pestle and mortar.
Zest and juice of half a lemon
A handful of cherry tomatoes, halved
Half tsp dried chilli flakes
Two large handfuls wild garlic leaves/flowers
A block of Parmesan to grate on top
Organic olive oil
Salt to taste
I like to use spaghettini which is thinner than regular spaghetti, for dishes that have fresh, delicate ingredients that I tend to use in my summer recipes. Cook the spaghettini according to the packet, in a large pan of boiling water until al dente. While it’s cooking, heat some olive oil in a wide, slightly deep frying pan, and add the garlic. Let it cook for a minute on low before throwing in the hazelnuts, and again, cook these for a minute before adding the garlic leaves and flowers, as well as the tomatoes. Turn off the heat, and once the spaghettini is cooked, drain it well over a pan, reserving a little cooking water, and add it to the frying pan. Turn the heat back on, mix everything well, add a little of the reserved water if it needs to be loosened, and then mix in the lemon zest and juice, a good sprinkling of salt, and the chilli flakes. Just before serving, grate a generous amount of parmesan on top. Finish with a heaped teaspoon of ghee, dragging the teaspoon randomly through the rest of the ingredients to coat them well.
Summer on a plate!