Since moving down to the South I’ve missed the luxury of a garden and the endless outdoor space it brings. Growing up in the countryside as a teenager I failed to appreciate the complete and utter quietness it brings, not to mention the garden spoils my green fingered mother grows (a skill she has clearly not passed onto me). The ability to pick bountiful rhubarb year round, strip fresh strawberries from their runners and pull apples straight from the tree are the things I yearn for most this time of year. I’m lucky that Chris’ parents have a huge vegetable patch so during the spring and summer months I leave clutching piles of fresh spinach, chard and rhubarb to my chest like they’re a new-born bebe.
I wanted to make something that really brought the garden to life in a bowl of warmth and comfort, to be eaten off your lap while watching the world go by. This is less of a recipe, more of a throw things together and marvel at the results simplicity brings. Our ingredients list is short and naturally sweet: peas, parsley, pasta, lemon, spinach and sun-dried tomatoes. Oh and cheese. Always cheese.
This recipe is as simple as chopping our ingredients, boiling our pasta, plunging our peas and spinach, and then shaking them all together with a dash of oil and pepper to bind the ingredients and create the quickest of sauces. Sometimes it’s too easy to get wrapped up in the complicated and overtly fancy. Spring is about stripping it back and enjoying the ingredients as they are. So grab your favorite knife (come on guys I know we all have one) and your largest chopping board.
We chop our spinach into long ribbons, finely cut our parley and roughly chop the sun-dried tomatoes into thin strips. Zest the lemon to leave delicate strands that will run through the dish and give that bright scent need to liven up the parsley. Just before the pasta has finished cooking we drop in our peas and spinach to quickly blanch them. Then it’s straight out of the pot to drain. Save a bit of the cooking water as starchy water makes a silky pasta sauce.
And then it’s as simple as all our ingredients going back in the pan. Add a dash of water, a healthy glug of oil and then season to perfection with black pepper. Top with grated parmesan and dig in.
Ingredients serves two and easily doubled
Two big handfuls of conchiglie pasta, this type of pasta is good for capturing peas and all the sauce
One big handful of spinach, sliced into ribbons
1/2 cup of frozen or fresh peas
1/4 cup of sun-dried tomatoes, thinly sliced
Half a bunch of fresh parsley, chopped
Zest and juice of one lemon
Healthy glug of oil
Grated parmesan to sprinkle on top
1. Put your kettle on to boil, a big sauce pan on the hob and ‘Budapest’ by George Ezra on the radio.
2. Once the kettle has boiled, pour into the pan and bring to the boil again. Season with salt and pour in the pasta.
3. While the pasta cooks chop all the ingredients and put to one side. When the pasta is almost cooked, add in the spinach and peas and cook for a further 1-2 minutes.
4. Drain the pasta, peas and spinach, reserving some of the water, and then place back in the pan. Add in the juice and zest of the lemon, a splash of the cooking water, oil, plenty of black pepper, parsley and sun-dried tomatoes. Divide onto plates and top with plenty of grated parmesan.