photos ELENA HEATHERWICK
If you follow Julius Roberts on Instagram, you might find yourself yearning for the slow life on his smallholding in rural England.
Across his platform, the first-generation farmer and chef shares honest tales of farming life and easy, thoughtful dishes to reconnect us to nature culminating in the recent publication of his first cookbook.
Featuring 100 recipes, The Farm Table sees Julius lean into his passion for seasonality and “simple food made from a place of love for the land it came from and the seasons that guide it”. He writes that “it’s the food that comes from my family’s kitchen. A few good things on a plate made with muddy fingernails and much to do. Simple home cooking inspired by the seasons. Steaming bowls of soups and broths brought out to the veg patch while we plant our seeds and mulch the soil. Quick dishes made in an instant while kid goats climb the kitchen table in search of milk. Effortless summer salads singing with vibrant flavour. And humble stews made on cold winter days.” Um, hello heaven.
As the weather begins to heat up Down Under, and we find ourselves with a glut of zucchini (that’s courgettes to you Brits), we turned to The Farm Table for this delicious pasta recipe while dreaming of long summer lunches. BYO organic wine and a table of pals.
Zucchini Pasta with Mascarpone, Basil and Lemon
words and recipe JULIUS ROBERTS
Homegrown zucchini cooking in a puddle of good olive oil with garlic, lemon and chilli is a combination that sings of summer to me. I make this almost every day from June to September, to be stirred through risotto, served next to a piece of fish, on toast with burrata, or with my eggs in the morning. But my personal favourite is tossed through pasta with mascarpone, fresh basil and lemon. It’s sheer joy, zingy and fresh with a gentle hum of chilli. Pictured here with homemade cavatelli, a much-loved pasta that’s incredibly easy to make, with a pleasing texture that goes so well with this dish.
1kg zucchini (ideally a few different colours, shapes and sizes)
5 tbsp olive oil
4 large cloves of garlic, finely sliced
a generous pinch of chilli flakes
400g pasta (I love using homemade cavatelli for this but penne, tortiglioni and linguine are also great)
1 large unwaxed lemon
3 tbsp mascarpone
a large bunch of fresh basil, leaves picked (mint also works very well)
a knob of butter, about 30g
Start by bringing a large pan of well-seasoned water to the boil for the pasta.
Slice the zucchini into rounds about as thick as your little finger, cutting any large zucchini in half lengthways first. Heat the olive oil in a wide pan and add the zucchini.
Season well with salt to draw out the moisture and fry for 5 minutes to get things going, before adding the garlic and chilli flakes. The key here is to end up with zucchini that are softened but not mushy, some beginning to collapse while others still have a bit of bite. The oil should be richly infused with garlic that has sweetened and not taken on any colour. Keep stirring the zucchini, and meanwhile get the pasta in.
When the pasta is al dente, remove a large mug of starchy water from the pan before straining. Add the pasta to the zucchini, grate in the lemon zest, then add the mascarpone and a generous splash of the reserved pasta water. Mix vigorously until the sauce is well combined and coats the pasta, adding more pasta water and mascarpone as needed. Squeeze in the juice of half the lemon, then add the basil and butter. Mix again and taste to check your seasoning – it may need a splash more lemon juice and salt. Serve immediately with a drizzle of really good olive oil.