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Well the warmer days haven’t arrived just yet, but rumour has it that summer (or at least late spring) is about to begin.  The forecasters are predicting warm and sunny days this week.  About time too – the greenhouse has got to the stage where nothing more can be squeezed in, it’s just full of plants waiting for a let up in the cold weather.  Moving everything outside each morning and back inside at night is becoming a chore, and the living room has become an extension of the greenhouse.  I can no longer hide the fact that I’ve grown way too many tomatoes because there they are, in full view, filling a corner of the room.  So, it looks like the next few days will be busy with lots of plants to get into the ground, and all those tomato plants to move out to the greenhouse.

Away from the garden, we visited the Malton Food Lovers’ Festival this weekend.  It was a really good day out – lots of local food producers, a cooking demonstration by Antonio Carluccio, and loads of ideas for new dishes to try.  When we got back it was late in the day, and I needed to make something quick and easy for tea.  Inspired by all the fresh, seasonal produce at the festival, I picked a bowlful of herbs, rocket, kale and spinach from the garden and put together a simple and tasty bowl of pasta with a creamy sauce.  This isn’t so much a recipe as an idea, you can use pretty much whatever greens are in season to flavour the sauce – herbs, spinach, chard, kale, even edible weeds all work well.

Pasta in a cream and green sauce

2 medium leeks

20g unsalted butter

1 clove garlic, crushed

1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped

2 good handfuls of fresh herb leaves (I used parsley, chives, oregano a little tarragon), baby rocket, kale and spinach leaves, washed

250ml double cream

400g pasta

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Parmesan, grated, to serve

Wash and trim the leeks, then chop the white part up quite finely.  Heat the butter in a large frying pan over a medium heat.  When the butter is melted, add the chopped leeks and cook them gently for 5 minutes or so.  You want the leeks to be tender, but not browned, so keep the heat low.  Add the garlic and chilli, and cook for a further two or three minutes.

Chop the herbs, and tear or chop the rocket, kale and spinach into smaller pieces.  Add the leaves to the frying pan and stir until everything is mixed together and coated with butter.  Take the pan off the heat and add the cream, a little bit at a time, stirring to mix everything together.

Cook the pasta in boiling salted water following the time guidelines on the packet.  While the pasta is cooking, gently warm the cream sauce.  Check it for seasoning, and add some salt and/or pepper to taste.

Drain the pasta, add the sauce and mix until each piece of pasta is coated.  Serve immediately with lots of freshly grated parmesan.

As this recipe was flavoured by the herbs in my garden, I’m entering it in the Herbs on Saturday Challenge, hosted by Karen at Lavender and Lovage.  There are lots of other great herb-inspired recipes entered in the challenge this month, why not have a look?

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