"Eat neither garlic, nor onions, for thy smell will betray the peasant in thee" Don Quixote admonishes his squire, Sancho Panza. Garlic, or Allium sativum, a member of the lily family, has been cultivated for thousands of years. Pliny the Elder praised it as a remedy for a host of ailments from asthma to insanity - though he also warned excessive use caused flatulence. French biologist Louis Pasteur praised garlic's qualities as a disinfectant and recent studies have backed long-held beliefs that compounds in garlic reduce cholesterol levels in the arteries and thus protect the heart. At one time despised in some countries as a poor man's spice, garlic is now an indispensable ingredient in so many cuisines.
The arrival of the new season garlic, in its wet (green) and wild (also known as Ramps in the US and Ramsons in the UK) forms, is a brief spring treat.
I love to use wild garlic in a quick and simple pasta dish and this recipe is so easy that you can take the time to make your own fresh pasta for it. Bought pasta is fine but fresh, not dried, works best. —Evie
4 as a starter or 2 as a main course
polenta to prevent sticking
a large handful
of ramps, well washed and cut roughly
Put all the ingredients except the butter and wild garlic in a mixer, or use your hands, to mix until everything holds together.
Either change to a doughhook and knead for 2 minutes or knead the dough on a work surface by hand for 10 minutes. If you use a machine, knead the dough by hand for a final half minute (the warmth of your hands finishes it off perfectly). You will now have a smooth firm dough. Wrap it in cling film and allow to rest in the fridge for at least half an hour.
Bring a large pan of water to the boil and salt the water generously.
Feed the pasta dough through the pasta machine on its lowest setting. Fold the dough and repeat 3 more times. Increasing the setting by one mark each time, feed the dough through the machine once until you reach its highest setting (if you are as short of kitchen space as I am you'll want to cut your rolled pasta in half part way through the rolling to make it more manageable, so you end up with 2 sheets of pasta). Pass them through the tagliatelle cutter and mix the pasta strands with the polenta until your are ready to cook it.
Boil the pasta for no more than 3 minutes and while it is cooking heat the butter in large pan and add the garlic leaves, salt and pepper. Cook for one minute then take off the heat. Add the drained pasta. Mix in a tablespoon or so of cooking water to loosen slightly. Serve with lots of grated parmesan.