Spaghettini with garlic flowers, chilli and anchovies

Every Wednesday, when I’m not working, I go to my local Grower’s Market. Last week I bought, among other things, a bunch of garlic flowers from one of my regular organic suppliers; Moonacres Farm. I couldn’t wait to get home, and put them in a vase, and admire them until hopefully they would open for me to use during the weekend. Well, Saturday afternoon they exploded into pale green fluffy balls, with a lovely mild aroma of fresh garlic. I thought that I’d use them in a very simple pasta, letting them be the star, and not overwhelming them with too many other ingredients. So, I made a variation of the classic, and very simple garlic, chilli and anchovy spaghetti. A go to of mine when I’m feeling fragile, and need to eat now. Don’t worry if you can’t find these flowers – they are only around in Spring, and you won’t find them in the supermarket – just substitute with a couple of cloves of garlic.

Now, before we go to the recipe a few words about Moonacres Farm. It is situated in the Southern Highlands of NSW, and let me tell you the quality of the produce is second to none. Phil Lavers, whose property it is, grows many different varieties of fruit and vegetables some of which you just can’t find in your local shop. There are no herbicides or insecticides used at Moonacres, the crops are weeded by hand and all nutrition for the plants are composted from organic materials. I’m hoping Phil has more of these delicious garlic flowers on the stand next week.

Serves 4

  • 4tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 bunch garlic flowers. Between 5-7, flowers removed, and torn roughly apart, the tender part of stem finely sliced
  • 3-5 anchovies, chopped finely. I love anchovies and use the Ortiz brand, add less if you wish
  • 1-2 dried chillies, crumbled
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 2tbsp finely chopped parsley
  • 350g Spaghettini
  • extra olive oil to drizzle, lemon halves and freshly grated Parmesan to serve

For the Pangrattato

  • 2-3tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2-3tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 thick slices day old ciabatta loaf, torn into small pieces.

First make the pangrattato. Preheat the oven to 180C, put the butter onto a baking sheet and place in the oven to melt. When melted, add the olive oil and the bread, and toss until coated in the butter and oil. Place in the oven and bake for about 10 minutes, or until golden brown and crunchy. Take out and drain on kitchen paper.

Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil, and start to make the sauce. Heat a medium sized fry pan over low heat. Add the olive oil, the finely sliced garlic flower stems, and the anchovies, and cook gently for a few minutes. You want them to soften, not fry. After about 5 minutes, add the chillies and black pepper. Remove from the heat, add the lemon zest, juice and parsley. You may also need a little more extra virgin olive oil. Cook the spaghettini in boiling salted water until done. Drain, keeping back a little of the pasta cooking water, and toss with the sauce until each strand is coated, adding 3tbsp of the water and half the torn garlic flowers. Finally, mix in the pangratttato, pile into warm bowls, and scatter the rest of the flowers on top. I can’t help myself, I always drizzle with a little more olive oil, a squeeze of lemon, and dust with freshly grated Parmesan. Enjoy.