Seasonal local food recipe No.386 – River Cafe’s spaghetti with basil and lemon Ⓥ


In hot weather I never feel like cooking. But we have to eat! This couldn’t be easier, and uses basil from Camel CSA’s weekly veg boxes. It’s another summer dish from the Observer Food Monthly‘s 20 Best Recipes and is taken from River Café 30 by Ruth Rogers, Rose Gray, Sian Wyn Owen and Joseph Trivelli.

Serves: 6 (as a starter or light lunch)
Preparation and cooking time: 10 minutes

250g spaghetti
juice of 3-4 unwaxed lemons
150ml olive oil
150g parmesan, freshly grated
2 handfuls fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
finely grated lemon zest, optional

Cook the spaghetti in a generous amount of boiling salted water, then drain thoroughly and return to the saucepan.

Meanwhile, whisk the lemon juice with the olive oil, then stir in the parmesan – it will melt into the mixture, making it thick and creamy. Season with sea salt and black pepper and add more lemon juice to taste.

Add the sauce to the spaghetti and shake the pan so that each strand of pasta is coated with the cheese. Finally, stir in the chopped basil and, ideally, some lemon zest.

Seasonal local food recipe No.192 – Jekka’s basil oil Ⓥ

This particular herb-infused oil is a favourite of  Jekka McVicar, owner of Jekka’s Herb Farm near Bristol which hosts the largest collection of culinary herbs in the UK.

Basil oil is delicious used in salad dressings and marinades. You can also try swapping the basil for lemon balm, fennel leaves or sweet marjoram.

Jekka says: “As soon as you open the bottle on a cold winter’s day the aroma alone wafts hot summer through the kitchen.” Her recipe comes via the excellent West Country FoodLover magazine (complimentary copies go into Camel CSA’s veg boxes every month).

Preparation time: 30 minutes (spread over a month!)

250ml mild olive oil
One good handful of fresh basil leaves

Tear the leaves into a bowl. Pour over the olive oil so they are well immersed and below the surface of the oil. Cover the bowl with cling film and place in a warm position – a sunny windowsill is ideal. Stir weekly, keeping the leaves immersed.

After a month, strain the oil through unbleached coffee filters, Place a few basil leaves for both identification and decoration in a clear, sterile bottle. Pour in the oil, seal and place in a cupboard.

  • More about basil and how to make a lemon basil cocktail on Jekka’s blog

Seasonal local food recipe No 158: Pesto gnocchi

This simple dish is from TV presenter Dick Strawbridge, who lives in Cornwall. He cooked it with his son James on ITV’s The Hungry Sailors.

We’ll be using our homegrown basil in Camel CSA’s veg boxes this week to make it along with the potatoes supplied by James Mutton at Burlerrow Farm, St Mabyn.

We have a strongly-growing crop of basil in the polytunnel and can look forward to plenty more in the weeks to come.

Serves: 4

Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes

For the gnocchi:
750g potatoes
300g plain flour
1 egg yolk, beaten
Pinch of salt

For the pesto:
2 garlic cloves
12 basil leaves
2 tbsp pine nuts
1 tsp sea salt
50 g parmesan cheese, grated
(use a vegetarian version to keep it a veggie dish)
4 tbsp olive oil

Peel and roughly chop the potatoes and boil for 15-20 minutes until soft.

Push the potatoes through a metal sieve, or a potato ricer, to make a smooth purée. Allow to cool and mix in the flour. Beat in egg yolk and a pinch of salt until it forms a dough. Knead to ensure it is smooth.

Roll the dough into a long thin sausage then cut into 1 inch pieces to form the gnocchi. Using the prongs of a fork, make an indentation into the top of each gnocchi.

For the pesto, grind the garlic, basil leaves, pine nuts and salt together in a mortar and pestle to form a paste. Stir in the parmesan and olive oil.

Drop the gnocchi into boiling, salted water and cook for a couple of minutes. The gnocchi are ready when they rise to the surface of the water. Remove, drain and coat in the pesto.

Seasonal local food recipe No 92: Warm salad of papardelle with herbs and baby spinach

Another recipe from Annie Bell’s Evergreen. She makes homemade pasta but bought is fine. It’s tossed with some herbs and baby spinach leaves while still hot, and the salad is served warm.

Serves 4

Preparation and cooking: 15 minutes

300g papardelle, fettucine or other flat ribbon pasta
½ tbsp red wine vinegar
salt, pepper
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
4 tbsp groundnut oil
55g baby spinach
2 level tbsp chives, snipped 2cm long
½ level tbsp tarragon leaves
½ tbsp basil, torn
1 level tbsp flat-leaf parsley leaves

Bring a large pan of water to the boil, add a shot of oil and then the pasta. Cook till al dente, depending on which size pasta you’re using. Meanwhile whisk the vinegar with the seasoning. Add the oils.

When the pasta is cooked, drain and toss with the dressing, adding all the leaves and herbs at the last minute. Adjust the seasoning and serve immediately.

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