Welsh Laverbread and Tomato Linguine
What Is Laverbread?
Laverbread is a Welsh delicacy made from red algae, an edible seaweed. Welshman, actor and 'Mr Elizabeth Taylor' Richard Burton famously described it as "Welshman's caviar". My Welsh family tell me that they use it to add depth of flavour to soups, stews and sauces, or fried and served as part of a 'full Welsh breakfast'.
While not as popular in the rest of the British Isles (apart from on the east coast of Ireland where it is known as 'slake'), in Wales laverbread can be found in all sorts of food products, including cheese, bread, sausages, pestos and pâte.
Laverbread has a delicate flavour, similar to that of olives. It is rich in nutrients, including protein, iron and iodine.
Japanese nori, which although produced using a different process, is also made from red algae and tastes similar. When crumbled, it makes a great alternative for this dish if you cannot find traditional Welsh laverbread.
How I Came Up With This Recipe
When I came up with this dish, I envisioned eating it at the Welsh coast on a hot summer day. But living in Oxford, England, and far, far away from the Welsh coast, I shall have to satisfy myself with my balcony instead!
I was also inspired by simple Italian pasta dishes that use very few ingredients. I have deliberately left out ingredients I normally use, such as garlic and onion, because I want the depth of flavour to come from the laverbread.
For this recipe, I have used fresh flat-leaf parsley, but if you can't get your hands on enough, or if you don't like it, you can swap it for baby spinach or another delicate leafy green. You may even choose to omit it altogether!
The laverbread, although subtle, gives this dish a wonderful, slightly salty depth to the taste of this dish that is reminiscent of the seaside. I have used a relatively small amount, but you can add more if you would like more of the rich depth that it will give to the taste of your dish.
I have also added a small amount of chilli for that little extra kick, but if you do not like spicy food, you can leave this out.
Get the best quality olive oil you can. In a dish with as few ingredients as this, it will make all the difference.
- 1 tablespoon good-quality olive oil, plus approximatly 1 tablespoon for drizzling
- 200 grams (7 oz) linguine
- 200 grams (7 oz) baby plum tomatoes, chopped into halves
- 4 heaped teaspoons laverbread
- 1 teaspoon tomato puree
- 2 teaspoons capers
- 20 grams (0.7 oz) fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 1/4 lemon, squeezed
- A dash (approximately 3 tablespoons) white wine
- 1/2 teaspoon chilli flakes (optional)
- Salt to taste
- Add your linguine to salted boiling water (approx. 2 litres) until the pasta is chewy, but not fully cooked (about 7 minutes).
- Make sure to reserve some of your pasta cooking water.
- Meanwhile, add 1 teaspoon of oil to a frying pan.
- When the oil hot, add the tomatoes and tomato paste to the pan and cook until soft.
- Add a splash of white wine. If not using white wine, use a splash of your reserved pasta water instead.
- Add your chopped parsley to the frying pan and stir in with the tomatoes.
- Using a pasta spoon, kitchen tongues, or a fork, add the linguine to the pan bit by bit, gently combining the linguine with the other ingredients, until each strand of pasta is covered in the light tomato sauce.
- If the pan becomes too dry and the linguine starts to stick, add a little of your reserved pasta cooking water.
- Once all the linguine has been added to the pan, take the frying pan off the heat.
- Add your laverbread, chilli flakes (if using), lemon, and an extra drizzle of olive oil to the pan.
- Combine with other ingredients, once again ensuring that each strand of linguine is covered in the tomato sauce, laverbread and chilli flakes (if using).
- Season with salt according to your taste.
- Spoon the linguine into two separate bowls.
- Top each bowl with a teaspoon each of capers and a sprig or two of the parsley.
Enjoy this simple, tasty dish with prosecco or an ice-cold glass of cloudy lemonade. I will be enjoying mine on my balcony while dreaming of the beautiful Welsh coast.
What do you think of this recipe?
© 2020 Kathryn Worthington