I am very much a fan of the kind of pasta dishes that don’t start with a sweated onion and a can of tomatoes. Blah, blah is all the unenthusiastic verbosity I can muster when faced with the inevitable store cupboard standbys. However, give me a handful of greens of some – any - description, some anchovies and garlic – and now we’re talking. The bitter, savoury, salty, grown-up flavours appeal to me much more than an over-reduced tomato base, and with a kick of chilli and a squeeze of lemon, it’s enough to roll you over and have you begging for more. Well, maybe, depending on how low your standards are.
I started with a bag of past-its-best purple sprouting (having bought two bags at the market in a spirit of hollandaise-based enthusiasm and conveniently forgetting MCD loathes the stuff) and thought about how I successfully used the woody asparagus ends last week. I took off the tiny stalky florets and set them to one side and then roughly chopped the longer woody stalks. I put them in the food processor with a large clove of garlic, a sprinkling of crushed dried chilli, a good squeeze of lemon, a couple of anchovies and some oregano for good measure and blitzed the lot.
I then slowly fried the mixture in some olive oil in a pan with a little water to help steam it; a little white wine would be good here too. Be warned: it does go a deep, perhaps unattractive, khaki colour but no-one promised you a rose garden. Meanwhile get your pasta of choice on to boil and about three minutes from the end of cooking time, throw in the reserved florets, then drain when all is tender.
Toss the pasta and florets into the sauce, then add a fierce amount of Parmesan and maybe more lemon and chilli if you really need a kick up the backside.