When I was little and in bed at night my dad (aka Munchkin Gramps) often used to play music while he did a bit of work at his desk. I would lie in bed waiting to go to sleep and hear the melodic strains of Simon and Garfunkel or Leonard Cohen coming from the sitting room. It was a lovely sound: it meant all was right with the world and everyone was in their proper place. I have a very soft spot for that music even now, and have my own little collection of Simon and Garfunkel songs. One of my favourites is 'Scarborough Fair Canticle':
Are you going to Scarborough Fair?
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme.
Remember me to one who lives there
She once was a true love of mine
The singer sets his love a set of impossible tasks before he will take her back, and she responds in kind. I never really thought about what it meant when I was younger; it was just a wistful and beautiful song of love lost, but it has some of the loveliest lines I've ever heard: the clarion call, the child of the mountains, and then the abrupt call of a soldier to arms.
I already mentioned that a few weeks ago I was given some free samples of sage, rosemary and thyme at a food fair, and of course I couldn't help but think of the song. I decided to try combining them together to see if they could make more than the sum of their parts. I wanted to showcase the herbs themselves, so settled on really simple pasta sauce of blended fresh herbs (I added some parsley from the freezer to complete the quartet) with a little oil, garlic and lemon zest. I added some water from cooking the pasta, and served it with some English asparagus I'd snapped up at a market the same week.
I'm sorry to say that my tribute to one of my favourite songs did not have me singing. It was a nice idea but the sauce needed to coat the pasta better. I think I was just a bit light-handed with the oil. It might have benefited from becoming more like a traditional pesto with some ground nuts, or even a fresh tomato or two. The herbs and lemon were pleasingly evident, but the texture wasn't what I'd hoped. Nor was the asparagus at its best, as you might perhaps expect for July - rather woody and lacking in crunch. I did have a label for my blog posts called 'complete and utter disasters' (created after the marshmallow incident) but I think I will change it to 'could do better' as this dish could yet reach better heights with a bit more work. For now I think I will stick to Simon and Garfunkel.
Simon and Garfunkel pasta
Blitz up a small handful each of fresh parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme in a mini blender, with some oil (to taste - but don't be as stingy as I was), a finely chopped garlic clove and some lemon zest.
Cook pasta, drain but save a little of the water to add to the sauce.
Steam chopped asparagus.
Toss all the components together and serve with parmesan cheese.