Basil, Pasta and Snail Flying

We have a friend in Andorra who has a garden on his balcony.  Not just a few pots but an actual garden.  He hauls dirt in.  He has grown a few stalks of sweet corn, grapes, berries, cucumbers, lots of tomatoes and basil. 

I was never particularly comfortable about going out on his balcony to admire his produce.  I feared that any additional weight at all would have the whole thing snapping off the building and plunging 1000 meters or so into the valley below.  Andorra is not a place for people suffering from vertigo.   It was a straight drop.  But, as he so often pointed out, we would all land on the cemetery, (known as the ‘filing cabinet’) so it would be economical funerals.  (The ‘filing cabinet’ , nicknamed because in such a mountainous country there is no land to spare for burial plots.  The dead are interred in drawers cut into the side of the mountain for 10 years.  You can buy another 10 but most people don’t… it’s a case of ‘dust to dust’, recycling, as it were)

Back to the point: One year he was debating if he shouldn’t switch to snail farming.  A small army of the slowing moving chomping machines had found it’s way to his aerie garden and were systematically working their way through it.  Not finding a lucrative market to sell said snails (everyone having enough of their own) he set about getting rid of them.  Each evening he would wander out to his balcony, beer in hand, and pitch the tiny creatures off.  Snail Flying!

Cruel, maybe; but, if you’ve ever had an entire bed of beautiful basil seedlings disappear overnight, you would also see it as very satisfying.

I only pitch my snails across the road.

They love basil and seem to be able to find it from great distances.  They don’t bother the big plants.  Once a seedling gets above 3″ in height (7 cm) they leave it alone.  But until that time it requires great vigilance to protect them (the basil, not the snails). As slow moving as they are, (the snails, not the basil) they can still do a lot of damage in a very short period of time.

What does all this have to do with pasta?

It’s summer.  What can be better than a lovely pasta salad with fresh, garden ripened tomatoes?  With the tomatoes one should really have a nice Mozzarella di Bufala which wouldn’t be at all good without some just-picked basil leaves which I can’t have unless I send all of my snails flying across the road!  There, you thought I couldn’t tie it all together, didn’t you?

Salami Caprese Pasta

Caprese Pasta Salad with Salami

3 – 4 oz salami (100gr)
1 package (ball) mozzarella di Bufala
1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes
2 stalks celery
Fresh basil – about 1/2 cup of leaves
1 1/4 cups pasta (8oz) – the small kind – farfalle, shells, etc.
1 tbs good olive oil
Balsamic Vinaigrette

Cook pasta according to package directions.  Drain and toss with olive oil. Slice salami in quarters.  Thinly slice celery.  Cut tomatoes in half. Slice mozzarella, then cut into 1/2″ (1.25cm) cubes.  Tear large basil leaves, leave small ones whole.  Make vinaigrette.  Add vinaigrette to pasta and toss to combine.  Add tomatoes, celery, mozzarella and salami to pasta and toss lightly.  Top with basil leaves and serve.

Balsamic Vinaigrette

2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tbs Balsamic vinegar
3 tbs olive oil

Mix mustard and vinegar.  Drizzle in olive oil, whisking constantly.

Why the salami?  I was hungry for it, I had some, why not?

This is my entry for Ruth’s (of Once Upon A Feast) Presto Pasta Night!  Please check her blog on Friday for a recap of all of the delicious pasta dishes.

Now I’m off to Germany for a few days (just barely over the border, actually) so there will be blog silence until Thursday….or Friday….

13 thoughts on “Basil, Pasta and Snail Flying”

  1. Snail flying — I love that! I have a small basil patch in my garden and don’t seem to have a snail problem (thank goodness) — because you’re right, what’s a good tomato salad in summer without the basil?!

  2. Great looking pasta salad. Thanks for sharing with PPN. I’m with you…don’t think I could go onto the balcony either.
    Have a terrific holiday and check back for the roundup on Friday.

  3. I don’t have snails bothering my basil, but it sure is looking pitiful! Every other herbe is doing just fine, but the basil looks as teeny as it did when I planted it several weeks ago. Looks like i will have to rely on my CSA and the local farmers mkt to fill in the gaps.

  4. you are absolutely correct~ what would summer be without fresh pasta~and a few snails lingering around~i used to have these mammoth creatures oozing around my garden while living in Seattle-where’s that salt shaker!

  5. Katie,
    Perhaps your friend in Andorra could tie parachutes onto the snails, to appease those who might object, before throwing them off his balcony. Just a thought.
    Mike

  6. That looks completely yummy and just what summer weather calls for. I hope you can eat some of the lovely pasta while enjoying the weather outside.

  7. Lydia, you’re lucky you don’t have those little munching machines!
    Ruth, thanks – that balcony is a scary place!
    There are no other balconies beneath it…
    Lucy, that would be one way of looking at it….
    Riana, substitute basil for parsley!?!?! And get drummed out of France!?!?!
    Farmgirl, even without the snails mine is looking pitiful, too. Too much rain! I bought a huge one in a pot that is filling in until mine grow up!
    Jann, Ewww! Slugs! I only have little slugs, thank goodness! Even the French don’t eat them!
    Mike, that’s a wonderful idea! I’ll pass the thought along…. but I’m not certain it would achieve the desired end result.
    Lannae, Thanks… and we keep hoping, but we won’t be on the terrace this weekend, either (thunder in the distance)

  8. That looks so beautiful—and perfect for right now. By the way, I like to put out a dish of beer and watch how the snails crawl in to drink it–and drown. They certainly are the party animals—orgies, switching their gender at will, drinking themselves to death!

  9. Wow this sounds good! I am with Ruth, I bet slugs that eat basil shoots are yummy!

  10. Sher, do you think snails drowned in beer would be as tasty as those fed on basil? Worth exploring…or quit wasting the beer!
    JennDZ, Oh no! Not slugs….snails…even the French (who’ll eat ANYTHING) don’t eat slugs.
    They look the same without the shell so I really don’t understand the difference… both slimey!

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