Using your fresh leafy greens: Spring Pesto Pasta Recipe
An abundance of fresh leafy greens are always the most welcome sign of spring in our gardens. Not to be overlooked for their flavour or versatility, young greens, say it be rocket, spinach, sorrel or stinging nettle, can be just the tang you’re looking for to brighten up your meal.
When grown right, these leaf vegetables are packed with flavour & nutrients, as well as making for great companion plants in your garden. Since we all know everything tastes better when you’ve had to grow it yourself, this is a little reminder that now is a great time to start germinating your seeds to ensure you have a plentiful supply in the coming months. We suggest doing this in several lots over the next few months and spreading out your planting (succession planting) so that you can have a continuous supply of your favourite produce.
Succession planting is one of the many techniques we practise in the permaculture gardens that surround the The Zin House restaurant, as this allows us to have a constant supply of the produce we use regularly in large quantities, like our leafy greens, throughout the whole season. As we work under organic & biodynamic certification, we also use many of these plants as beneficial companion plants – which is a practice that helps keep pests out of your garden and support the mutual growth of all your plants by pairing suitable seeds (particularly herbs & vegetables) together. If you’re interested, follow the link to read more about Companion Planting.
How to use your leafy greens…
So what is our favourite thing to do with all these leafy greens that we grow? On the Zin Menu and in their kitchens at home, you will find our chefs using these for the likes of:
Bitter Greens Salad; just pick your favourite selection of young leaves, mix them up with a dressing of verjuice, extra virgin olive oil & season, then enjoy alongside your main or to cleanse the palate.
Edible Garnish; pretty and practical, zhuzh up your pasta or avocado toast with the addition of fresh young rocket, sorrel or whatever takes your fancy.
Spring Greens Pesto; Swap out the basil on your classic pesto recipe with young leafy greens to create a fresh spring pasta dish. We love this one so much below we’ve put together a take on the pesto pasta dish currently on the menu at Zin for you to enjoy at home.
Spring Greens Pesto Pasta
Like many of our recipes, this is something you can change up to suit your tastes or what you have available. Love garlic – feel free to put a bit more in. Having guests over or want leftovers for the next day – double or triple the recipe depending on what you need. The current quantity feeds 2-4 people.
As for which greens to use as your basil alternative, our favourites include rocket, sorrel, parsley or even stinging nestle (just be sure to blanch it before you handle it), however you can use pretty much any young fresh green leaves you have growing or find in the grocer.
For the pesto:
- 60 gram spring greens
- 40 grams pine nuts
- 50 grams parmesan
- 50 grams EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)
- 1 garlic clove
- Combine all the ingredients together in a food processor, blender or mortar & pestle until smooth.
For the pasta (if making your own):
- 160g plain flour
- 90g semolina
- 4 eggs
- 4 tbsps olive oil
- Pinch of salt
- Combine all the ingredients in a bowl until a dough is formed, then knead on your bench until smooth.
- Wrap in cling film and rest for at least 30 mins.
- Divide the dough into smaller pieces and gradually work them through a pasta roller until you reach a 0.5 setting (or until very thin using a hand roller).
- Cut the sheets of pasta into desired shape using a pasta cutter or cut by hand using a knife.
- Dust with flour and cover with a tea towel.
To compile the pesto pasta:
- Bring a large pot of water to the boil, adding a generous pinch of salt.
- If using fresh pasta; add your pasta to the boiling water, stirring immediately after dropping into the water, and cook for about 3 minutes (depending on the thickness of your pasta); otherwise follow the instructions on your pasta bag if using pre-made.
- Strain the pasta once cooked and keep some of the cooking water.
- Place the cooked pasta into a hot pan on the stove top with the pesto mixture, then add a little of the pasta water and combine it all together on a medium heat for two minutes, or until the consistency is to your liking. Add seasoning if needed.
- Portion into serving bowls and top with your choice of parmesan, pagritata, fetta or fresh curd (or a mixture), and some extra spring greens to garnish. Drizzle with a little more extra virgin olive oil and enjoy!