Along the Grapevine

Pine Pasta

21 Comments

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This is not the height of foraging season. We have loads of snow and the ground is frozen and completely inaccessible. Yet there is a surprising amount of wild edibles that can still be found and used at this time of year – mostly from trees. The other day I had the pleasure of being invited to hike through a private woods with well-marked snowmobile tracks. Among all the evergreens, apple, oak and birches there were a good number of white pine trees.

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I chose this particular tree because first of all it offers needles which are not only edible but have a very pleasant flavour in small quantities. The other reason I prefer to use them in this space is they are so easy to identify. Their long soft needles are arranged in bunches of five – the only tree with this particular characteristic.

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I pick only the needles at the end of branches where they are less likely to be covered with any of the sap. Of course I choose trees which are easy to reach, but mature enough that the needles are good and long as in the picture above. Make sure that the area where you pick has not been treated with chemicals.

Once picked, remove the brown tip at the base. To dry the needles thoroughly, place them in a dehydrator or oven at about 50 degrees C or 130 degrees F for about ten hours, until they snap when bent. Then they need to be ground to a fine powder in a coffee or spice grinder.

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Like this, they can be stored in a cool dark place for several months and used in baking, marinades, sauces etc.

I decided to blend them in a pasta recipe. I used spelt flour, but you can substitute plain white flour in the same quantities.

Pine Pasta


Ingredients

2 cups flour

3 eggs

2 Tbsp oil

1/2 tsp salt

1 Tbsp pine powder

Method

Mix the flour, salt and pine powder. Make a well and add the eggs and oil, mixing this together with the flour and blending in the flour bit by bit. Or do as I did and just mix it all in the food processor. Once the dough has all come together, remove it and knead on a floured surface for about five minutes until it is smooth and elastic-feeling. Wrap it in a damp towel or plastic and refrigerate for about 20 minutes.

Divide into four pieces or more, roll out very thin and cut in strips.

Put the noodles into boiling salted water for about four minutes or until the pasta feels al dente.

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I found the taste of these noodles very pleasant and not at all overpowered by the pine, which did impart an interesting and delicate flavour. Any of your favourite pasta sauce recipes would work well with this, but I went for a non-saucy mixture of vegetables and chicken. I first fried some onion and portobello mushroom, a few pieces of roasted chicken and then added greens (dandelion and Chinese broccoli) just long enough to wilt them. Tossing the whole mixture into the pasta, I then seasoned it generously with my sumac pepper.

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Served with a glass of sumac mead and followed with a dessert of maple walnut baklava, it was the most foraged dinner I have ever served – and all this in the dead of winter.

Pine Pasta on Punk Domestics

Author: Hilda

I am a backyard forager who likes to share recipes using the wild edibles of our area.

21 thoughts on “Pine Pasta

  1. Hilda. This is a crazy, brilliant recipe. Love it. Pine powder. Wow to the wow. We lived in a very cold, snow-laden region for four years and are actually moving back to a similar geographical/meteorological regions in July. How amazing that you are out and about, trekking through natures beauty and making a pine-pasta at the end of the day. You embrace nature, all seasons – is their any other way. Inspiring post – and thanks for mentioning to collect the needles sans sap.😉

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  2. This sounds amazing! I’ve never used pine needles in cooking before (they aren’t too easy to find in Brooklyn haha), but I’d love to one day give this a try🙂

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    • Thanks Justine. I wouldn’t eat any evergreens from Brooklyn, but there are wonderful foraging places just a little north of you once you get out of the metropolis.

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  3. I didn’t know you could do that with pine! Awesome!

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  4. Wow!! Look at that snow!! Today I went for a walk and it was 13 degrees C. My first crocus came up today too! I kind of missed the snow this year – it is so pretty!
    But on another note, your post is just fascinating! I had no idea that we could eat pine needles!! Hilda, you should be teaching courses on foraging! I would take your course for sure!😀

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    • Today it is 25 below C, but sunny and still so I will get out. Pine needles are actually nutritious and what kept people healthy during winters before we had supermarkets. I hope we will see some of these great flavours come back into our diets one day.

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    • Thanks Julianna. 13 degrees C seems hard to imagine here right now. I am just hoping it stays above -30 for my skate on the canal.

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  5. Very savory recipe, Hilda🙂 The last picture made me very hungry.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Enlightening … again, thank you Hilda🙂

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  7. I will have to try foraging for that on on my next hike. Nice find! Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. As Shanna said, this is a crazy brilliant recipe Hilda! How do you do it everytime? The best foraged food that I have ever seen ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Wow, I did not know that pine needles were edible. I wonder what kind of nutritional value they have.

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  10. Wow, it looks awesome! I’m sure that it’s so delicious. Thanks Hilda. I love your recipes.

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