Trofie pasta with watercress, courgette and almonds
- August 2018
- Serves 4-6
- Hands-on time 1 hour, plus resting
”This is a great dish to cook to impress guests . You don’t need a fancy gadget but you do need to master the technique for making the pasta. What’s fantastic about the sauce is that you can change it depending on what’s in season. I like to use wild garlic or asparagus in spring, watercress throughout the summer and cavolo nero in winter.” – Adam Banks, head chef at Fifteen Cornwall.
- Vegetarian recipes
- 18.8g (2.2g saturated)
- 27.2g (1.8g sugars)
- 200g fine semolina, plus extra to dust (optional; see Adam’s tips)
- 100ml freshly boiled water from a kettle
- 400g watercress (see Adam’s tips)
- Pinch flaky sea salt (we used Maldon), plus extra to serve
- 50-100ml olive oil
- 2 medium courgettes
- 50g fresh mint
- 100g whole blanched almonds, toasted
- Finely grated zest and juice 1 lemon
- Mature pecorino (or vegetarian alternative) to serve
- Extra-virgin olive oil to drizzle
- Put the semolina in a heatproof bowl and add the hot water. Stir to make a dough, then leave until cool enough to handle.
- Knead the dough on a clean work surface until smooth. If the dough is tacky and sticking to the surface it’s slightly too wet, so dust both work surface and dough with a little more fine semolina and keep working the dough. Roll it into a ball, then wrap in cling film and leave to rest for 30 minutes (not in the fridge).
- While the dough is resting, pick through the watercress and reserve half the best-looking pieces. Chop the rest of the watercress finely and pound in a pestle and mortar with a pinch of sea salt flakes and olive oil. Start with 50ml oil and add more as required – you’re looking for a thick pesto-like consistency.
- Peel the courgettes into thin ribbons using a Y-shaped vegetable peeler.
Pick the mint leaves from their stalks and lightly crush the toasted almonds in a pestle and mortar. Set aside.
- Unwrap the rested dough, pull off a piece the size of a small marble and roll into a ball, then roll on the work surface into a sausage shape the width of the first three fingers of your hand.
- Now for the slightly frustrating but most rewarding (once you’ve cracked it) part: shaping the trofie. Move your thumb to the far end of the sausage-shaped dough and in one motion, applying gentle pressure, pull the dough back towards you with your thumb at a slight angle moving away from you in a kind of arc. The dough will twist up against your thumb and will look like a spiral shell. Repeat with the remaining pasta dough. (If you don’t get on with this technique, you can try shaping the dough in the palm of your hand under your thumb: roll your thumb backwards applying pressure while pushing your hand away from you in a swooping motion so the dough rolls under your thumb – see Adam’s tips.)
- Leave the trofie to firm up while you bring a large saucepan of salted water
to the boil. Once boiling, add the trofie and cook for 4-6 minutes (checking after 4 minutes) until just al dente.
- Meanwhile, set another large pan over a medium heat, then add 2-3 tablespoons of the pasta cooking water. Stir in the raw unblended watercress so it starts to wilt, then add the courgette ribbons and stir to wilt for 1-2 minutes over the heat.
- Drain the pasta, reserving a few more tablespoons of the pasta cooking water. Add the drained trofie to the pan with the wilted watercress and courgettes and toss together well. Add the watercress sauce, lemon zest and juice to the pan and toss together to combine. If the sauce is too thick to coat the trofie, add some or all of the reserved pasta water to loosen it a little.
- Add most of the crushed almonds and a good grating of pecorino/vegetarian cheese alternative to the trofie and toss together once more. Transfer to a large serving plate, drizzle over some extra-virgin olive oil, scatter over the mint leaves and sprinkle with the remaining almonds, sea salt flakes and some more grated pecorino/vegetarian alternative, if you like.
If you’re making the pasta ahead, dust with rice flour instead of semolina. I was taught this tip by Gennaro Contaldo and it really helps to keep the moisture out of the pasta.
As a change from almonds, use pine nuts, pistachios or hazelnuts – or use up a mix of what you have available in your storecupboard.
It might take a few goes to get the trofie technique right – see a video of Adam rolling the trofie (step 6).
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