I love making different pasta sauces, but realised, as we needed to start rationing to various degrees, that I can make even more delicious pasta sauces (‘sugo’ in Italian) with fewer ingredients.
This consequently opened the door to create even more sugo variations – all based around wild garlic from our garden as the central theme. The key is never to be afraid to experiment.
The season for wild garlic tends to be April and May. It can be found on most walks. Only ever pinch off the leaves and leave the small bulbs in the ground untouched to regenerate.
Choose your leaves carefully, especially when gathering in areas frequented by dogs. Always wash thoroughly!
It takes about 2 mins to prepare and another 15-20 mins to cook.
- One red onion, finely chopped (white onions are also fine)
- One stick of celery, finely chopped
- Two rashers streaky bacon, chopped (optional)
- A handful of garden herbs
- Dried chilli flakes
- Whisky smoked rock salt (or any salt!)
- One tin of chopped tomatoes
- A handful of wild garlic / wild leek leaves, roughly chopped
For the herbs, we’re lucky to have a variety growing in the garden. My absolute favourite is rosemary as the main herb, along with sage, thyme and perhaps a couple of leaves of lemon balm, chives and marjoram. At the end of the day, I’m not fussy, I’ll use whatever herbs are growing. I just love them and love to experiment
Add all of the above, except the tomatoes and wild garlic, to your sauté pan with some olive oil. Cover and leave to simmer for 2-3 mins. I suggest a healthy pinch of dried chilli flakes (I love my lips to tingle – so adapt to your personal taste). I have chosen whisky smoked rock salt as I love the gentle flavour and notes the whisky brings.
Next, add a generous handful of roughly chopped wild garlic or wild leek and mix into the already simmering ingredients. Cover again while you open one tin of chopped tomatoes. I always use Napolina – as my mum always used Napolina when we were children. They’re always great quality. After adding the tomatoes, stir and leave to simmer for about 15 mins.
Remember to regularly taste your sugo, add seasoning as appropriate, stir and add water as necessary ( I tend to use the starchy water from the pasta – which you can have bubbling away in a separate pot).
When your sugo begins to darken around the rim of the pan (you’ll know when you see it) it’s ready.
As the sugo gently simmers, the individual ingredients begin to release their true flavours and embrace each other. There’s a quote along the lines of “It takes an orchestra to play a symphony” The same applies to most things in life, especially a sugo! This is why it’s important to regularly taste whatever you’re cooking!
If you’ve timed everything to military precision, the pasta should be nicely al dente as the sugo darkens.
Drain your pasta and add to the sugo.
Turn off the cooker and gently weave your pasta into your beautiful sugo.
Once fully coated, put the lid back on and leave for 2-3 minutes. This allows the pasta to fully embrace and gently soak up the sugo.
Now it’s ready to serve with some parmigiano cheese and a nice glass of wine.
E voilà, “ Sugo all’Aglio Selvatico alla Pietro Cecchini! “ (Pietro Cecchini Wild Garlic Sauce).