This sauce is the result of seeing a vat of lurid green sauce posted on Instagram by Forza Win, an Italian restaurant in Peckham (which I’m longing to visit, but for the time being I make do with drooling over their Instagram feed) It was cavalo nero sauce, and though it was months ago, I couldn’t get it out of my head; it just looked so silky and vibrant. Fast forward to Luna’s birthday a couple of weeks ago, my mum visited for a socially distant hello, and brought with her some cavalo nero from her garden. I knew exactly what it was destined for. Obviously I don’t know how Forza Win make their version, so I just winged it, and through sheer luck this one I hit upon is the BOMB. Not only is it silky smooth and luxurious, with a welcome kick of chilli, it clings to the pasta like white on rice, and it’s good for you (kind of)! Win win, right?
You do need a very high speed/powerful blender to make this – something like a Nutribullet/Nutri Ninja – I don’t think a stick blender or standard food processor would be up to the job, as the cavalo nero can be very fibrous.
Cavalo Nero Pasta Sauce
- 100g cavalo nero (stripped off the stem, weigh it after removing stems)
- 4 cloves garlic, lightly crushed
- 1 medium red chilli, de-seeded (supermarket chillies are such a Russian roulette – I use the chunky red ones, which usually have a pleasant kick but don’t blow your head off)
- 40g unsalted butter
- 60g vegetarian parmesan-style cheese, grated
- Salt and black pepper
- 400g rigatoni (I used spaghetti because it was all I had when I made this, but I think rigatoni would be a better partner for it)
- Put the cavalo nero, garlic and chilli into a large pan of boiling salted water and let it simmer for about 5 minutes. Drain it, reserving 300ml of the cooking water, and allow it all to cool until just warm. Transfer the cavalo nero, garlic and chilli to a high speed blender (I used a Nutri Ninja) and add 100ml of the reserved cooking water, with the butter. Blitz on high speed for a good few minutes until absolutely smooth, silky and vibrant green. Add the grated cheese, season well with salt and black pepper, then blitz again, ensuring it’s completely smooth before removing it from the blender. It should be the consistency of double cream, add a touch of the remaining cooking water to loosen it if it’s too thick.
- Cook the pasta in plenty of salted water until just al dente, then drain it and transfer it to a serving bowl containing the sauce. Toss it really well, to ensure the pasta is well coated, then serve immediately, with extra grated cheese on top.
Swap the butter for olive oil and leave out the cheese in order to make this vegan.