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Homemade Pasta with Cobnut & Flat-leaf Parsley Pesto

Angus foraging cobnuts.JPG

As we pass over the winter solstice, when the frosts are coming thick and fast and the nights are drawing in at their earliest, all we want to do is stand near a fire and fill ourselves with warm delicious food, and this homemade pasta pesto dish is a perfect winter warmer.

At this festive time of year, most people are thinking of filling their bellies with stuffed turkeys, beef Wellington, smoked salmon, Stilton and port. As delightful as that sounds, there are also a number of other wonderful seasonal British ingredients to consider for a weekend feast. Among them is our humble native cobnut that sheds its load over the late autumn and early winter period. Another is flat-leaf parsley, still growing in many parts of the country even in deep winter. The earthy and nutty flavours of the cobmake at hnut go hand in hand with the strong fresh bitter notes of the flat-leaf parsley. It is so simple and something everyone can enjoy.

Cobnut & Flat-leaf Parsley

Serves: 4 (Enough for 300-400g pasta)
Method Time:
10 minutes

Ingredients

200g Cobnut with shells (or 120g Cobnut without shells)
100g Flat-leaf Parsley (Curly-leaf if you can’t find Flat-leaf)
50g Parmesan
80ml Olive Oil
Sea Salt

Instructions

  1. If you forage, buy or pick up cobnuts that still have their shells on, simply crack them with a nutcracker and remove shell. Be careful to remove all shell, as it is very sharp and hard.

  2. Blend all the ingredients in a food processor, adding more olive oil if needed.

  3. Keep refrigerated until pasta part is cooked.

  4. The pesto will normally keep up to 1 week.

Homemade Pasta

Serves: 4 (Makes 350g fresh pasta)
Method Time:
30 minutes

Ingredients
300g Grade ‘00’ Pasta Flour
Sea Salt, Pinch
3 Eggs

Instructions

  1. Pour the pasta flour into a bowl through a fine sieve.

  2. Then, pour the sifted flour out onto a clean surface and make a well in the middle of it.

  3. Carefully add the eggs and a pinch of sea salt – we used Wild Garlic Leaf Salt hence the green flecks in the dough but any sea salt is absolutely fine – making sure you don’t break the well walls for the eggs to run out.

  4. Now with your fingertips start to turn the egg mixture inside the well in a rounded motion and slowly bring in the flour to make a ball of dough.

  5. Once in a ball, wet your hands – it is good to have a small bowl of water to keep your hands wet – and start to knead the dough for around 5-10 minutes until the dough is elastic and rather tight.

  6. Cut the dough into two separate balls and leave one of the balls to a side and cover with cling film or a damp towel to keep fresh.  

  7. Roll one of the balls of dough out with a rolling pin to a centimetre thick or until it can fit into the widest opening of your pasta machine – this will vary between machines.

  8. Feed the rolled dough into the machine and repeat several times, every time gradually decreasing the width of the machine until the pasta is nice and thin. Be very gentle with the pasta and add a little dusting of flour if you feel it becoming sticky.

  9. Cut your long flat piece of pasta into equal thin strips, similar to the pappardelle, fettuccine or tagliatelle style.

  10. Do the same with the other ball.

  11. Cook all the strips in boiling salted water for a couple of minutes and be sure to save a little pasta water when you drain.

  12. Now, add the cobnut and flat-leaf parsley pesto to the drained pasta and stir well.

  13. If needed, add a small amount of salted pasta water you’ve kept to loosen the pesto around the pasta a little.

  14. Serve with plenty of grated Parmesan and cracked black pepper.

If you’re like me and adore full-fat dairy, add a glug of double cream to the pasta alongside the pesto for a lovely creamy addition to the dish.

The sea salt used in the photographs is Wild Garlic Leaf Salt from The Bridge Lodge company based in North Wales.

Credits
Words & Photography by Angus D Birditt