Stop Food Waste Day is about educating and igniting change in the fight against wasted food; while developing the concept for Pasta Evangelists, we were shocked to learn that over 80% of food goes to waste in a typical fine dining restaurant. Decreasing both the amount we consume and use is therefore one of the most significant ways in which we can reduce the size of our carbon footprint.
Our food philosophy is inspired by the spirit of cucina povera – the rural tradition of the ‘poor kitchen’ – invoking the formidable figure the Italian nonna, under whose watchful eye nothing goes to waste. From a young age, Chef Roberta followed in the footsteps of her own nonna, Maria-Assunta, having spent many hours together foraging and cooking on the d’Elia family farm. It was Maria-Assunta who taught Roberta the art of pasta making, sitting for hours on end watching her wizened hands use every last scrap of freshly prepared dough to form beautiful shapes.
To honour this memory on Stop Food Waste Day, Chef Roberta has prepared a special dish, reminiscent of languorous afternoons spent under the Italian sun, cooking in the company of her nonna. Here, Roberta makes one of her favourite pasta shapes - pici - which she infuses with spinach to transform into a verdant, green hue. A generous spoonful of olive pâté using leftover ingredients completes the dish, providing a final, salty hit of umami, reminiscent of the Mediterranean sea breeze.
Chef Roberta's plant-based pici aglio, olio & olive pâté with pici
75g fresh spinach
Half a cup of water
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
Half a red chilli, finely chopped
6-8 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Handful of parsley, finely chopped
200g black olives
45g extra virgin olive oil
Make the pasta
Chef Roberta’s tip: “Using leftover spinach from the fridge to make the dough is an easy way to avoid food waste. I also like to use other old greens such as rocket and basil to make a quick and simple pesto.”
Making the dough:
- Roberta has let us in on a little secret for this recipe; her quick way to ensure all of the ingredients for the dough are thoroughly mixed together is to blend the spinach and the flour in a food processor, gradually adding a little of the water at a time until a thick dough has been formed.
- Remove the dough from the food processor and form it into a ball.
Kneading the dough:
- Lightly flour a clean work surface and knead the dough by pressing the heel of one hand into the ball, keeping your fingers high.
- Press down on the dough while pushing it firmly away from you. The dough should stretch and roll under your hand to create a shell-like shape.
- Turn the dough over, then press into the dough with your knuckles, one hand at a time. Continue kneading for about 10 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and springy to the touch.
- Roll the dough into a smooth ball.
- Cover the dough loosely with a tea towel and allow it to rest for 15-20 minutes at room temperature.
Shaping the dough:
- To make the dough into pici, cut small pieces off your ball of dough (around 2cm) and, using the palm of your hand, roll them into long sausage shapes. Don’t worry about them being completely smooth: The rough edges will grip onto the sauce better and after all, they are supposed to look rustic!
- Repeat this step until you’ve used up all of your dough and you have many strands of pici.
Cook the pasta and sauce
Chef Roberta’s tip: “If you have an excess of chillis, store them in the freezer. They’ll keep for 4-6 months once frozen and then can simply be grated into any dish of your choosing for a piquant bite!”.
- Chop the garlic and red chilli into fine pieces.
- Drizzle the oil into a pan over medium heat and add the garlic and chilli. Fry until the garlic begins to brown.
- Add the chopped parsley to the pan and then remove it from the heat.
- In the meantime, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Once at a rolling boil, add a generous pinch of salt.
- Add the pici to the pot of boiling water and cook until al dente.
- Once cooked, place the pici to the pan with the garlic and chilli. Add 2 tablespoons of pasta water to the pan and cook for a further 3 minutes until the sauce becomes emulsified with the pasta.
Make the pâté and plate up
- Using a blender, blend the olives with olive oil. Chef Roberta’s tip: “If the mixture looks too dry, simply add 1 teaspoon of water at a time until it reaches your desired consistency.”
- Place the pici onto a serving plate and top with a scoop of pâté. Buon appetito!