Wild garlic polpette with spaghetti and pesto

This vegetarian pasta recipe from Anna Jones makes the most of the short wild garlic season, adding the leaves to 'meatballs' made with puy lentils. When combined with spaghetti and a tomato and wild garlic pesto, this is a dish that deliciously ushers in the first signs of spring.

First published in 2019
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  • Blender


Preheat the oven to 200°C/gas mark 6. Fill and boil a kettle and get all your ingredients together
Wash the spinach with the wild garlic and remove any tough stalks. Place a large frying pan on a high heat and, when it’s hot, add the spinach and wild garlic and dry-fry until wilted and any water has evaporated
Drain the lentils well if you are using tinned, then put them into a blender and blitz until they are mushy. Add the egg, nutmeg, breadcrumbs or oats, hard cheese, lemon zest and some salt and pepper. Blitz until combined, then remove from the food processor and fold in the spinach and wild garlic
Divide the mixture into four. From each quarter make 8 small balls. You should end up with 32 balls, each roughly the size of a £2 coin. Place on a baking tray and put into the oven for 15–20 minutes, until crisp and golden
To make the sauce, put the pine nuts and olive oil in a food processor. Blitz to a coarse texture then add the lemon zest and juice, remaining wild garlic leaves and the cherry tomatoes. Blitz again until you have a rough pesto, then season well with salt and pepper
When the polpette have had 10 minutes, fill a large pan with boiling water, add salt and once at a rolling boil add the pasta and cook according to the packet instructions (usually about 8 minutes)
Once the pasta is cooked, drain it, reserving some of the cooking liquid. Add the pesto and mix well, adding a little of the reserved pasta water to loosen if needed. Tangle the tomatoey pasta into bowls and top with the polpette and a little more cheese, if you like
First published in 2019
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Anna Jones is a cook, writer and stylist, the voice of modern vegetarian cooking and the author of the bestselling A Modern Way to Eat, A Modern Way to Cook and The Modern Cook’s Year.

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