‘Pappardelle with Almond & Artichoke Sauce, Purple Kale & White Asaparagus’ – Original recipe from ‘Peace & Parsnips’
I’m cooking this tonight, a really attractive summery pasta dish. I was reminded of it when it popped up on the Blue Zones website. I cook dishes like this often, especially when I’m over in Spain, where the artichokes and almonds are just out of this world!! Plus the lemons…..you cannot quite recreate the flavour of a lemon freshly picked from the tree which has enjoyed all that sparkling Med sunshine. But let’s try! If you cook this dish, wherever you are, half close you eyes and imagine that the bright sunshine is everywhere, the blue, blue ocean waves are crashing somewhere close by and there are trees filled with lemons just outside your window. Ahhhhh. That’s the right vibe for this one!
The Mediterranean diet is famous for being healthy, but its not just all the sea, sand and lemons. A healthy lifestyle is a little more complex than that it seems. I’m very interested in the idea that the way we live, not just the way we eat and drink, has a bearing on our health and wellbeing. For me, diet is one of the foundations to a healthy and happy body and mind, but there is much more to consider and appreciate.
Blue zones refer to the communities around the world who live for the longest. There has been a lot of interest in the lifestyles of these people, why do they live so long? It seems that being social, staying active and from what I can see, maintaining a connection with nature, leads to longevity. There seems to be a strong sense of community in most of the ‘blue zones’ around the world, from Japan to Italy, and over to Costa Rica, people living more natural lives with good connections with each other, live longest. Sounds like a recipe for a good life to me.
I’ve always like the Irish proverb, ‘a light heart lives long.’ I can’t see stress doing us any good in the long run. When I see the people interviewed in these ‘Blue Zone’ cultures, they are generally chilled out. Most of this is common sense to many of us, but its the putting it into practice that can be the hard part. Takes a bit of discipline.
I’m always positive about change, our lifestyles will adapt depending on our priorities and convictions. The option for a peaceful and content life is always there, it may be hard, may seem impossible, but with little shifts and changes to the way we approach life, the things we prioritise on a daily basis, big changes can come. I know this, because it happened in my life. I went from quite a stressed life managing restaurants in London to helping to build a little beach bar in Spain, then took the real plunge and went for a very long walk in the Himalayas. My world view and perceptions changed considerably.
A healthy approach is of course not just based around what we eat, but the way we think and feel. I recently watched this little cartoon about mindfulness, which is an excellent technique for developing a more conscious and connected approach to life that has been effective for millions of people. Mindfulness and meditation are two key practices that Jane and I use to maintain balance and harmony within ourselves and therefore within our relationship with each other and the world at large.
Mindfulness is like an anchor in a chaotic world, when our life seems to be out of control, it’s a safe place we can find empowerment and inspiration, peace and genuine relaxation. After all, a short period of mindfulness and meditation can have the restorative and re-energising effects of many hours sleeping. A relaxed mind is an effective mind and an effective mind allows us to navigate our way through life in an assured, calm and empowered manner.
I’d like to thank the Blue Zone site for sharing the recipe and reminding me about some of the aspects of my own lifestyle that were being neglected. I’m off for a long walk and then, dinner!
Peace and Parsnips was released in the USA recently, so you’ll notice the US style weights and measures below. The recipe contains a few ingredients, but is easy to put together and I like the artichoke and almond combo in the sauce, something a bit different. I think this is perfect for a treat summer meal and the last recipe I posted, Simple Seared Mushrooms with Pea Puree & Crushed Minty Peas would make a very nice starter. I love these kinds of dishes, simply prepared, just let the lovely produce at this time of year give their flavour and do the talking.
Have you tried salsify? Its a delicious, if a little obscure, ingredient. You can use salsify in this dish instead of the white asparagus, which is normally found jarred. I first made this dish in Spain, where there is no shortage of white asparagus. I like its subtle flavour and texture.
Pappardelle is one of my favourite pastas, great for a thick, creamy sauce that sticks to it nicely. You can of course use tagliatelle or something similar.
14 ounces (400g) purple kale, stalks removed, thickly chopped
8–10 white asparagus spears
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/3 cup (75ml) nice white wine (vegan)
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
14 ounces (400g) pappardelle (or similar egg-free pasta)
a small handful of toasted almonds, finely chopped
a big handful of fresh parsley, chopped
a handful of watercress
Artichoke & Almond Sauce
5 tablespoons olive oil
a handful of almonds, soaked for 2 hours, skins removed if you have time
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
4 big handfuls of watercress leaves
14 ounces (390g) artichoke hearts
juice of ½ a lemon
For the Artichoke & Almond Sauce
Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a frying pan and add the almonds.
Sauté for 1 minute, then add the garlic and continue cooking for 2 minutes more.
Add the watercress leaves, cover the pan, remove from the heat and allow to cool.
Place the contents of the frying pan in a food processor with the artichokes, lemon juice and 4 tablespoons of olive oil, and blend to a smooth purée. The sauce should be thick and shiny. Add water to thin it out if necessary.
Heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil in a large heavy-bottomed frying pan on medium and add the asparagus. Panfry for 6–8 minutes, until nicely caramelized. Add a glug of white wine, and when the liquid has evaporated, season and cover. Leave to sit.
Bring a big pan of salted water to a boil and cook your pasta for roughly 8 minutes, until al dente. Add the kale halfway through the cooking time. Drain well, keeping aside a little of the pasta water. Add the drained pasta and kale to the artichoke sauce and toss together, adding some of the pasta water if it is looking a bit dry.
Spoon into warm shallow bowls and top with crisscrossed asparagus and a sprinkling of toasted almonds and parsley. Garnish with the watercress and season with sea salt and black pepper.