We’ve all heard the saying “less is more” and it seems to work when we get it right. When it comes to food we could find a delicious recipe in one of our many (unused Christmas present) cook-books, but one look at the never-ending list of ingredients after a long day at work and it suddenly seems like a lot less hassle to just pick up the phone and call for a pizza delivery, instead of allowing our inner Michelin star awarded chef to come forth… sound familiar?
Who doesn’t love a good pasta and sauce and with fresh, light and seasonal ingredients? Here is a great recipe for pasta sauce which can easily be adjusted to suit your personal tastes by adding fried chicken strips, blanched broccoli or fresh cherry tomatoes, whereby you’ve just boosted this sauce and made it into something all too versatile!
Should you not have the time, equipment or a plentiful herb garden, substitute the fresh basil with a ready made pesto added to the reduced cream. No more fussing with making sauces that come out of a packet or turn all lumpy while you’re busy with kids!
Creamy Basil & Peas Pasta recipe
Serves 4 to 6 people
- 500 grams Tagliatelle pasta, shop bought or homemade
- 600ml Fresh cream (or coconut cream for vegans)
- 80gr fresh sweet basil
- 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar, lemon juice, rice wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar are good substitutes
- 30ml iced water
- 15ml olive oil
- 1 cup peas, fresh or frozen
- 6 whole white peppercorns
- Salt – to taste
- Good quality hard cheese shavings, such as parmesan to finish
- To garnish; freshly ground black pepper and reserved tops of fresh basil.
- Set a large pasta pot of generously salted water on the stove top to boil, to this add a generous glug of olive oil. ‘Watched water never boils’ so get it going first and it will be at a good rolling boil by the time you’re ready to cook the pasta. Place the cream and the white peppercorns into a medium sized saucepan over medium heat and gently bring to a boil, reduce the heat immediately and leave to simmer until reduced by at least 1/3.
- Bring a small pot of water to the boil and prepare a mixing bowl full of ice water. When the water in the small pot come to the boil, dip the bunch of fresh basil into the water, holding on to the end of the stalks, as if you were dipping a paint brush. Gently stir the basil in the water for no longer than 20 seconds. The herb will go bright green.
- Overcooking will make the leaves go dull and even black. Remove the leave from the hot water and plunge into the ice bath, reserve the hot water in the small pot for the peas.
- Place the wilted leaves into the cup of your stick blender, add a pinch of salt, the vinegar, 15ml olive oil and 30 iced water and blend to a puree. Pass the puree through a fine mesh sieve or a piece of Muslin cloth. Discard the pulp of leaves while reserving the juice concentrate you have extracted. By this time the simmering cream should have reduced sufficiently to thicken.
- Remove the cream from the heat and add the basil concentrate, stir to incorporate. The colour should only change very subtly, but the flavour will be fresh and undeniable, don’t over salt the sauce as you will be serving it with salty cheese.
- Refresh the peas in the water you used to blanch the basil, strain well and add to the cream and basil reduction, cover and set aside until the pasta is cooked.
- The pasta pot should be at full boil, drop in the pasta and cook until al dente, approximately 17 minutes for shop bought dry pasta but you will only need 3 minutes if using fresh homemade pasta. Drain the pasta and run under cold water to cease cooking, drizzle with olive oil and toss lightly. Add the pasta to the sauce and stir well and heat gently if necessary, avoid boiling the cream sauce at this stage to avoid splitting.
Plate individual portions, topped with shavings of Parmesan cheese, fresh basil leaves and a grind of black pepper.