Italian food is fundamentally based on good quality, simple ingredients that have been lovingly prepared. Some of the best dishes are made from just two or three different things which are cleverly combined to produce a satisfying, tasty meal. This is especially true in this recipe for Pasta alle Erbe Aromatiche which showcases the wonderful fresh herbs that can be easily found in Italy, or even grown on a balcony or windowsill, by just combining them with olive oil, garlic and a sprinkling of cheese. The light, fresh taste of this simple pasta dish is perfect for the hot months and will even bring a taste of sunshine when the weather is not so good. For non-meat eaters it is also a great alternative to the more common vegetarian options.
Apart from being incredibly easy and cheap to make, Pasta alle Erbe Aromatiche is a very flexible recipe and you can use any herbs you have to hand such as basil, parsley, rosemary, sage, marjoram or mint. For a slight twist you could also add a chopped red chili to give it a bit of a kick. You don’t need to be particularly strict with the measurements, about a handful of three or four different herbs should be plenty, but make sure you have enough time to leave the herbs to infuse in the olive oil in order to really develop the taste and create almost a marinade for the pasta. The important thing is to add the drained pasta to the herb mixture when it is still hot so that it can absorb all of those wonderful flavours. Whether eaten hot or cold, accompany the dish with a nice cold glass of vino bianco and savour the taste of summer.
Pasta alle Erbe Aromatiche (serves 2)
180g pasta (any kind)
About a handful each of 3 or 4 types of fresh herbs (parsley, basil, sage, rosemary, marjoram...)
About 150ml of extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic
Grated Parmesan or Pecorino to serve
What to do:
Put a decent chug of olive oil into a big bowl.
Chop the garlic very finely and add to the oil with a good pinch of salt.
Chop the fresh herbs very finely (use a mezzaluna if you have one) and add them to the bowl and stir well.
Cover with cling film and leave for at least an hour.
Boil a pan of salted water and cook the pasta until 'al dente'.
Drain and add the pasta to the bowl, tossing it in the oil and herbs.
Serve hot or cold with a good sprinkle of grated cheese.
By Kate Zagorski