A Saturday treat



Clams are much more expensive than mussels, but I love their sweet flavour so occasionally Lo Jardinièr and I treat ourselves to some from the coquillage van that brings them, along with oysters and mussels, to the village on Saturday mornings straight from the Etang de Thau at Bouzigues. We had some black squid-ink spaghetti so we cooked that while the clams opened slowly in a wide pan with just a little olive oil. When they were all open I added a few tablespoons of crème fraiche and some chopped oregano and garlic to the pan, mixed it well with the juices from the clams and added it all to the pasta. It took about ten minutes to make for lunch….

clams-2and serve with a glass of Viognier white wine made in the village.



What a treat!

Borage and walnut ravioli


As promised, here’s the recipe for my version of ravioli that I bought a few weeks ago on the Italian food stall in Clermont-l’Hérault market. As with all foraged food, the amount of borage is approximate and can be varied according to what you have.

ingredients for 18 ravioli – serves 2-3:

for the pasta: 200 grams very fine flour (I was unable to find the special pasta flour, so I used patisserie flour which seemed fine enough); a pinch of salt; 2 eggs.

for the filling: a large bunch of borage leaves and flowers too if you like (enough to half-fill a large saucepan – they reduce a lot when cooked, like spinach); 75 grams shelled walnuts; 1 tablespoon olive oil; salt and black pepper.

First make the pasta by mixing the beaten eggs and salt into the flour. Knead it well, or use a pasta machine, as we did. Passing pieces of the pasta dough through gradually narrowing rollers until it is fine and thin – but not too thin, we found the finest setting made the sheets of past too delicate and apt to split. It takes about six rollings at least.

Cook the borage leaves in a little water until wilted and the stems soft. Borage leaves MUST be cooked – when you pick them you’ll know why, because they’re very prickly when raw. The flowers can be added raw to salads and drinks, though.


Put the walnuts in a food processor and whizz until finely chopped. Add the cooked borage leaves, olive oil, salt and pepper and whizz again until you have a fairly fine, green purée.


Some pasta machines have ravioli makers attached. Mine doesn’t, but I have a useful cutter that makes rounds about 3 cm across and closes them when the filling has been added to make half-moons. Or you can make squares, triangles of half-moons by hand.


Once you have made and filled each shape, brush half of the edge with water so that the two edges close and stick together.


When the ravioli are all ready, bring a large pan of salted water to the boil, add the ravioli and cook for 6 to 7 minutes. Drain and serve with olive oil and shaved parmesan cheese. You can add chopped parsley and garlic too.


We ate them for lunch today and were very pleased with the result. Apart from the delicious flavours of borage and walnut, fresh pasta always tastes so much better than dried so it definitely seemed worth the work!


For supper last night:


500 grams palourdes (clams), fresh from the Bassin de Thau at Bouzigues and brought to the village by the producer, cleaned and cooked in a wide pan with a little olive oil until they’d all opened, when I added some chopped garlic and parsley, a glass of white wine and two tablespoons of crème fraiche. At the same time I cooked 250 grams of black squid-ink spaghetti, put the two together and there was a delicious fast-food supper!


The membrillo I posted the other day is fairly simple to make but it does involve spending a long time in the kitchen while it bubbles away, reducing and thickening and having to be stirred occasionally to make sure it doesn’t burn. While this was happening I used the time to make ravioli, encouraged by my empanadilla success with my new cutter, and getting the pasta machine out of the cupboard for the first time for a couple of years.

For 24 large ravioli, enough to serve 4, I mixed 100 grams of fresh sheep’s cheese (brousse du Larzac because it’s easily available here but you could use ricotta) with 100 grams chopped artichoke hearts (from a jar of artichokes in oil), some salt and pepper.

For the pasta use 200 grams of the finest flour you can find – 00 special pasta flour if you can get it – add a pinch of salt and mix it slowly with two beaten eggs.


When the dough is ready to roll out it’s much easier if you have a pasta machine but you could, if you have the energy, roll it with a rolling pin on the table. It needs to be rolled several times to smooth out the dough and when using a pasta machine you can adjust the gap between the rollers so that after putting the same piece of dough through the machine about eight times you have a thin piece to cut the shapes from.


I was lucky because as well as having the pasta machine I also had Lo Jardinièr to turn the handle while I took some photos!

Once all the dough was rolled, in four pieces, I cut out the round shapes with the cutter


I filled each one and sealed them before cooking them for about 10 minutes in a large pan of boiling salted water.


There were too many for the two of us to eat all at once so we ate half of them for supper with olive oil, chopped garlic and shaved parmesan cheese.


And the ‘leftovers’ next day for lunch: I put them in a terracotta dish and covered them with tomato sauce (made with onion, garlic, our own tomato purée, white wine and a bay leaf) and some grated cheese and heated them in the oven for about 20 minutes. I think they were even better this way than they had been the night before – the tomato sauce, as it often does, seemed to bring out the flavour of the artichokes.


Definitely a good way to spend the time waiting for the membrillo to cook!

Clams with squid ink pasta

These palourdes – clams – brought to our village by the producer straight from the Etang de Thau at Bouzigues are my favourite shell fish. Sweet and fresh, they are delicious cooked simply in their own juices, some olive oil and chopped parsley. Today though we had the happy coincidence of some black squid ink pasta and an abundance of tomatoes from the garden sharing space in our kitchen and asking to be added to the clams.

While the pasta was cooking, I lightly fried a sliced red pepper (fresh from the garden) with a large chopped garlic clove in some olive oil in a deep frying pan.  When the pepper had softened I added the cleaned clams and put the lid on until they began to open.  When they had all opened I added three skinned and chopped tomatoes, some chopped parsley and another chopped clove of garlic and brought it all to the boil again while I drained the pasta.

I mixed the clams and sauce into the pasta and served it all with a glass of red wine for me and a glass of rosé for Lo Jardinièr who declared this the best pasta dish he’d eaten since we were in Catalunya last year and enjoyed rossejat de fideos.