Monday, 23 November 2015

weekend :: Roasted Baby Carrots with Spaghetti and Carrot Top Pesto

It's deep and crisp and even... all crunchy and frosty underfoot. Friday night howling winds squealed down the chimney calling for someone to light a fire, dark skies and icy rain chased away the balmy autumn days. The kitchen smelt of pancakes, cinnamon, star anise, cooked apples and fresh laundry. Saturday the sun came out and in true incy wincy style the rain dried up and the skies lightened to a happy bright sparkly blue. Still cold, but smiley...

It was the first weekend at home for a while and the perfect day to be indoors, except to rescue the onions before they bolted and dig up my baby carrots. They wouldn't feed a family, but the cute little orange and yellow specimens made a tasty pasta lunch. I've written the recipe at the end of the page. 

Pre food-shop, freezer and vegetable basket foraging, produced the ingredients to make a stir-fry supper. A great way to use up the stragglers before restocking.

The first issue of my birthday gift subscription of The Simple Things arrived. I've now learned how to make a hundred wishes bay leaf garland, to keep the Christmas tree pine needles to add to a bath, to make a fragrant salt body scrub, home made teabag gifts and a match box advent calender. But don't think there'll be time to save up enough matchboxes before the 1st. I'll have to try and find some  cool vintage ones like in the article. 

Oh and I was tempted to buy a copy of The Nordic Cookbook until I discovered that one of the recipes requires chopping down and pine tree to make pine bark bread and another needed boiled seal intestines! Eeek...

We did lots of sorting and painting eventually ventured out for food shopping and new twinkly lights, a bit of online Christmas shopping (love Etsy and homemade things) and there was even some time to catch up on TV viewing. The first two episodes of dark Scandinavian Drama The Bridge with the unsociable but likeable character Saga, and colourful episodes of Rachel Khoo's Kitchen notebook and Nigella Lawson's new program, Simply Nigella. I know that she flirts with the camera and has every word memorised off-pat, that inspires a myriad of micky-takers, including Ahmad, who can't resist copying every sheepish fluttering eyelid sideways look that she makes. (I try to watch it when he's not around) But I will always stick up for her, life has given her a lot of hard knocks and yet she always picks herself up and keeps on smiling, not dwelling on the sad things but celebrating good ones. She's actually cooking healthy food with no cream or butter at last. Hence my latest batch of pancake making, Nigella's Oat Pancakes.

I have to admit these are worthy and wholesome even for me, let alone Nigella. But when you feel the need to be very good they work with lots of fruit, maple syrup and plain yoghurt. I cooked windfall apples with vine fruits, honey and a little cinnamon, and star anise for that lovely childhood cough syrup hit. They would never replace Great Aunt Makiris pikelets, but they make an even healthier alternative. I think I'll probably try to make Sophie Dahl's spelt ricotta ones on my next foray into pancake making.

You can watch Nigella making her oat pancakes on the link here

and here's my pasta recipe:

Roasted Baby Carrots with pasta and Carrot Top Pesto. 

Ingredients for four people: 

  • A bunch of carrots as fresh and small as possible with the tops still on
  • Olive oil
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • An unwaxed lemon
  • Three or four cloves of garlic
  • A handful of pine kernels
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Pasta of choice, about 3oz to 4oz per person. I used dried spaghetti.

  1. Cut the lemon in half and squeeze most of the juice into a jug. Keep the lemon after squeezing and cut into smallish chunks.
  2. Remove the carrot tops and reserve for later.
  3. Scrub the carrots well with a stiff brush. Top and tail unless they are really small and tender and cut into diagonal chunks and place into an oven proof dish. Drizzle with a little olive oil, season with salt and pepper, add the chunks of lemon and roast in a moderate oven for about twenty to thirty minutes until tender and a little coloured.
  4. Whilst they are roasting wash the carrot tops. Take of the top feathery bit and discard any thick stalks. Chop roughly and place into a blender.
  5. Add some olive oil, a good grating of Parmesan cheese, a handful of pine nuts and the lemon juice and blend. Season with salt and pepper and adjust if necessary adding more ingredients. 
  6. Cook the pasta, drain and place on a serving dish
  7. Top with the roasted carrots and some of the pesto. Combine well and eat while still warm. 
This was amazingly yummy. Not as aromatic or flavourful as basil pesto but it makes a lovely garlicky sauce for the sweet, lemony carrots. Nice no fuss,comforting bowl food. 

I might try Nigella's brown rice bowls and healthy breakfast bars next...Never thought I'd say healthy and Nigella in the same sentence...

I hope that the weather was doing good things for you this weekend...I'm coming to catch up now...

linking with Karen for weekends


  1. you really need to write your own cookbook!! i'm always inspired when i pop in here....i'm going to make that pasta dish this week!

    1. Oh Steph that is so sweet of you to say. I hope you manage to try it.

  2. I have lots and lots of pine trees so I can maybe get on board with the pine bark bread, but seal intestines? OH NO!
    I agree with Steph, you really should consider putting out a cook book, I would love to have a copy in my kitchen. :)

    1. We got our tree this week, still not had time to decorate it but I'm going to save the needles for the bath and try the bread too. You are all so kind to say nice things.That would be a dream come true.

  3. happy birthday!! I agree with the others write a cookbook! I love your foods :) Or open a restaurant (but that would be lots of work...)

    1. Thank you Karen, yours sounded good. Thank would be amazing. Not so much the restaurant. I wouldn't mind doing a pop up one every so often but like to do it for family and friends most of all.

  4. AHH! You're cozy beautiful blog is just what I needed today, Debbie! I'm really intrigued by the pine bark bread. Pine trees, we have! Roasted carrots are the best! We ate them for an entire week when we harvested them.

    Have a happy week!


    1. Thanks Jane, I feel the same about yours. I know, I will give it a go we've just got our Christmas tree a few days ago. I must check that it's not poisonous first though, I don't want to poison any one! They are so sweet when roasted and even better with a tiny drizzle of maple syrup.
      Hope you have a good weekend,