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Aster Pasta

Aster Pasta

Serves pea 2 Clock icon 25-30 minutes
This delicious pasta dish from Miles at Forager celebrates sea aster. He says: "Raw sea aster has a tangy and slightly herby (bordering on fruity) flavour but is much milder when cooked. It grows on salt marsh – muddy tidal places- and consequently often comes with a light coating of mud. It therefore needs thorough washing before use. If left wet after washing for long, non-salt water will causes the cell walls of the leaves to collapse, turning the leaves black and spoiling the flavour. To avoid any sea aster dis-asters, either dry thoroughly after washing, or wash immediately prior to using."

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Here's how you do it

  1. Crush the garlic and leave to sit for ten minutes (see Miles's tip below).
  2. Bring a pan of salted water to the boil and pre-cook the spaghetti until just shy of al dente. Remove the pasta from the water (keeping the pasta water on the heat until later) and refresh in ice cold water (you want it to cool down completely as this transforms pasta into low GI food).
  3. To clean the aster, use warm water to wipe the leaf blades (green flat bits) and clean inside the groove down the stalks. Dry thoroughly with kitchen paper.
  4. Remove the stalks from leaves and chop stalks into small pieces, roughly 4mm long. Peel and finely dice the onion.
  5. On a medium/ low heat, gently fry the aster stalks and onion in a drizzle of oil until soft.
  6. Add the garlic to the onions and aster stalks and continue to cook for further 3 minutes.
  7. Put aster leaf blades in neat piles of 8 or so and cut lengthwise into 5mm (or thereabouts) wide strips.
  8. Pour the cream into garlic, onion and aster stalk mix and warm through. Add the spaghetti back into pasta boiling water and warm through.
  9. Add the aster leaf blade strips to cream sauce then drag the spaghetti in too. Give everything a good stir and serve immediately.

Miles's Tip:

"Raw garlic contains the ingredients to make allicin - a powerful anti-microbial with proven anti-cancer properties - it's most active ingredient, but not the compound itself. Allicin is created when two substances in garlic come into contact with each other. One is a protein fragment called allin and the other is a heat sensitive enzyme called allinase. In an intact clove of garlic, these compounds are isolated in separate compartments. They do not mingle until you slice, press or chew the garlic and rupture the barriers between them. Then the combustion begins. Heating immediately after crushing or slicing destroys the heat sensitive enzyme that triggers the reaction. As a result, no allicin is created. So chop, slice or mash the garlic and then keep it away from heat for ten minutes. During this time, the maximum amount of allicin is created so the heat sensitive enzyme is no longer needed."

Ingredients

  • 100g sea aster leaves
  • 160g spaghetti (or pasta of your choice)
  • 1 small onion
  • 100ml single cream

Larder

  • 1 tbsp rapeseed or olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove

Suitable for

  • Vegetarians