We’re really lucky to have such a fantastic local baker at Forge House in Lower Heyford. Sue’s signature Heyford sourdough is slowly fermented to create a great quality, nutritious, and very tasty loaf which can be ordered by the majority of our customers through the milk round. As with all real bread, it’s best eaten fresh on day one and day two. It makes great toast on day two or three, and, if your loaf manages to last longer than that in your household, there are many wonderful things to do with the bread when it’s past its best.
You could blitz the stale loaf into breadcrumbs which make excellent toppings for gratins and bakes. You could chop the leftover end into small cubes, and fry those in oil and butter to make croutons as a perfect topping for soups and salads. Or, if you’d like to try this month’s recipe, the hardened bread makes a lovely, economical green sauce that is sometimes called ‘poor man’s pesto’.
Originating in northern Italy, Bagnèt verd is made with stale bread rather than expensive pine nuts - hence the unjust nickname. This alternative to pesto is usually served with grilled cheese, and it can be used anywhere you would expect to find pesto, such as in this effortless pasta dish below. But it also makes an excellent accompaniment to simply cooked meat. It's less rich and more acidic than pesto, so it works especially well alongside rich, meaty dishes because it cuts through the fat. Use what’s left over from the recipe below as a marinade or relish to a North Aston, pasture-fed lamb chop or beef steak.
Makes about 200g
50g hardened old bread, from the end of a Heyford sourdough loaf 1½ tbsp vinegar – wine, or sherry 2 tsp capers, drained, plus 1 tbsp of their brine (or water) 6 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil 1 small garlic clove, peeled 2 anchovy fillets, optional 40g parsley, leaves and stalks finely chopped Sea salt and black pepper
Chop the stale bread into pieces and put those in a blender with the rest of the ingredients. Pulse-blend to a coarse but evenly textured paste. Season and store in a clean jar in the fridge, where it will keep for up to a week.
Pasta, green beans & bagnèt verd
Time: 20 minutes
400g pasta, we like linguine
200g green beans
6 tbsp of bagnèt verd
Cook the pasta in a pan of salted boiling water according to the packet instructions. Just before the end of cooking reserve one mugful of the pasta cooking water.
Top and tail the green beans, chop into small lengths, and boil or steam for a few minutes until tender then drain.
Once the pasta is cooked, drain and then return to the pan. Add 6 tbsp of the bagnet verd. Gently warm through and pour in a small amount of the reserved pasta water to loosen the sauce.
Add the cooked green beans and crumble in the Bix cheese. Stir to melt the cheese a little, then serve.
Tip from Mary - after you’ve cooked and drained the beans immediately plunge them into some very cold (ideally iced) water for a few seconds. Drain once more before adding to the cooked pasta. This helps the beans maintain their bright green colour.