The Barbour Way of Life Guide to: Comfort Food with Julius Roberts

The Barbour Way of Life Guide to: Comfort Food with Julius Roberts

spring summer 2020

Food is so central to our lives — it’s a source of comfort, nourishment and a means of coming together. At Barbour, we wanted to celebrate the simple joys of food and help people make a new, delicious and comforting dish! 

To do this, we joined forces with much-loved cook, farmer and gardener, Julius Roberts, as he talks us through creating the ultimate comfort food dish using beautiful British ingredients grown on his farm. So here it is, Julius’ Handmade Cavatelli with Wild Garlic Pesto and Anchovy Breadcrumbs. Enjoy!

Handmade Cavatelli with Wild Garlic Pesto and Anchovy Breadcrumbs

Wild garlic is one of the highlights of a foragers’ year. As the shimmering white snowdrops signal the end of a deep dark winter, I find myself walking the farm each day looking for the first emerald spears to break through the forest floor. The season starts sometime between the end of February and end of March, depending on where you are and how harsh the winter was.

Wild garlic grows in old woods, generally near water, and you can often smell it before you see it — especially later on in the season. The whole plant is edible, from the flowers and the seeds to the bulbs and leaves. Personally, I would never pick the bulbs so as not to damage the crop for next year. It’s important to remember that although foraging is a wonderful way of reconnecting with nature and the food on your plate, it is also taking food from the wild and the animals that rely on it, so be sparing and respectful. Don’t take more than you need, and use a knife to pick the plants so that you don’t damage the root and bulb below.

Kerry Lockwood preparing Easter egg hunt

Now the reason we love the stuff, of course, is that it tastes fantastic, (perhaps unsurprisingly) like garlic, but more mellow. The flowers are punchily flavoured white stars that make a wonderful decoration in salads and on soups or tarts. The seeds make the most epic capers and the buds are brilliant pickled. The leaves grow in abundance, are a deep vibrant green, and are endlessly versatile. They can be fermented, infused into oil, or used much like spinach both cooked and raw.

Pesto is an absolute classic with wild garlic. I make it every year without fail and usually end up with enough to keep a few jars in the freezer to be enjoyed out of season. It is, of course, great with pasta, but also on new potatoes with butter and maybe some hot smoked trout. I have it often for breakfast spread on warm sourdough with a soft-boiled egg atop or even mixed with a little extra olive oil and lemon juice to form a salad dressing.


Comfort Food with Julius Roberts Comfort Food with Julius Roberts



This recipe makes enough pesto to last you a good few meals and uses a combination of both raw and cooked wild garlic — using only the raw stuff is a bit harsh on the taste buds for my liking. You can change the amount of raw garlic you add depending on how strong you want the pesto (I find 50g to be the perfect balance).

The pasta dough makes enough for about 6-8 portions depending on how hungry you are. Any leftover dough will last for a few days in the fridge if properly covered. This is a pasta dough to be rolled and shaped by hand, not through a machine.

Anchovy breadcrumbs are just too good to be true. You’ll find yourself using them on everything and finishing them far too quickly. Great on eggs, in salads, sandwiches and of course on pasta, where they lend a welcome crunch and a hit of umami. They last for a good week in an airtight jar and this recipe makes enough for a few meals.

For the
Wild Garlic Pesto
450g wild garlic leaves
200g olive oil
120g pine nuts carefully toasted in a pin
120g Parmesan (chopped into rough chunks)
1 unwaxed Lemon
Sea salt

1. Start by wilting 400g of the wild garlic in a large pan on a medium heat with a glug of olive oil, a pinch of salt and a splash of water.
2. On a medium heat add the wild garlic and keep stirring until it wilts.
3. Drain the cooked wild garlic in a sieve for a few minutes before adding to your food processor along with the remaining 50g of raw wild garlic.
4. Add the olive oil and blitz to a fine paste.
5. Add the parmesan and pine nuts and pulse until well combined, I personally like mine rather chunky so do this for a minimal amount of time.
6. Season with two decent pinches of sea salt and the zest and juice of your lemon.
7. Pulse to combine and taste to check your seasoning, it may need a touch more salt.
8. Store in a jar in the fridge with a drizzle of olive oil on top. It also freezes exceptionally well and is worth making in decent quantities to enjoy throughout the year.

For the
Pasta Dough
250g fine semolina flour
250g 00 pasta flour
1 egg + mixed with enough water to bring the weight up to 275g

1. Combine the two flours in a bowl and make a well.
2. Add the egg and water, mix with a fork, and tip onto your work surface, kneading for 10-15mins till it forms a smooth and elastic dough.
3. Cover the dough in a bowl or put in Tupperware and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before using.
4. From this, you can make all sorts of shapes. Ensure that you work with small portions of the dough, keeping the rest covered as you go, to prevent it drying out. I like to serve it with Cavatelli but pici, trofie and orecchiette are a few of my other favourites.

(I will demo two of these shapes in the video)

For the
Anchovy Breadcrumbs
100g of stale sourdough, crust removed, blitzed in a food processer to create coarse breadcrumbs. (Panko breadcrumbs also work brilliantly).
5 tbs of olive oil
10 salted anchovy fillets finely chopped

1. Add the oil and anchovies to a heavy-based frying pan and cook on a medium heat until the anchovy melts.
2. Turn the heat up slightly and add the breadcrumbs.
3. Fry until they turn a nutty brown being especially careful that they don’t burn, I recommend constant stirring.
4. Allow to cool on a tray and store in an airtight jar. They keep well, but you’ll find them finished far too quickly…be prepared to make more. Chilli and garlic are wonderful additions to the oil when melting the anchovies.


Comfort Food with Julius Roberts Comfort Food with Julius Roberts

Stay tuned to the Barbour blog, for more in our Barbour Way of Life series, where we’ll be posting more heart-warming, exciting and educational guides.