Pasta with a Thousand Herbs
Every summer I grow as many herbs as I can in the planters on my city terrace. I plant parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme of course, plus this year tarragon, mint, marjoram, oregano, lavender, and 3 kinds of basil. The plants are beautiful and smell so good but the best thing is having a steady supply of fresh, fragrant herbs I can cook with all summer, fall, and in some cases part of the winter.
One recipe I use the herbs for is an old favorite called Stracci di Pasta alle Mille Herbe, ragged pasta with 1,000 herbs. I got the recipe a number of years ago from the chef at Locanda dell’Amorosa in Sinalunga near Siena in Tuscany for an article I was doing for the late, lamented Gourmet magazine. The article was about the Unione Ristorante del Buon Ricordo, the happy memory restaurants. At the end of a meal when you have ordered their signature dish, restaurateurs who are members of the organization present you with the gift of a charming plate hand painted with a cartoon-like depiction of the dish. I have big collection of piatti del buon ricordo.
Of course, the recipe doesn’t really require 1,000 varieties of herbs. I generally use 6 or 8, but as few as 3 or 4 will give a good flavor, as long as they are fresh and fragrant. Please don’t even think of using dried. The other ingredients are sweet summer tomatoes, good extra virgin olive oil and tangy aged pecorino cheese. Sounds easy, and it is, and just the thing for a summer meal.
The pasta is a fresh pasta cut into short wide strips with a wavy edge cutter. You can make your own as I do, or buy some fresh lasagne strips and cut them into shape, or just use fresh fettuccine.
Here’s the recipe, which I have adapted from my book 1,000 Italian Recipes. Try it while summer lasts!
Stracci Pasta with a Thousand Herbs
Makes 4 to 6 servings
1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup chopped fresh tarragon
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
2 tablespoons chopped fresh marjoram
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
8 fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
1 sprig fresh rosemary, finely chopped
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 pound fresh stracci or fettuccine
1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano
2 medium size ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped
In a bowl large enough to contain all of the ingredients, combine the herbs, olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
Bring at least 4 quarts of water to a boil. Add 2 tablespoons of salt, then the pasta Stir well. Cook over high heat, stirring frequently, until the pasta is al dente, tender yet still firm to the bite. Drain the pasta, reserving some of the cooking water.
Add the pasta to the bowl with the herb mixture and toss well. Add the cheese and a little of the pasta water and toss again. Scatter the tomatoes over the pasta. Serve immediately.
Adapted from 1,000 Italian Recipes, John Wiley and Sons,by Michele Scicolone