When I make pasta, I cannot stop myself from making enough to feed an army.
There’s nothing like the buttery taste of pasta and I am very proud of myself in the quantity of pasta I can eat in one sitting. As I told you before, I impressed an Italian chef who has been working in professional kitchens for over 40 years with my ability to eat 5 full plates of pasta back-to-back.
But for me, it’s absolutely crucial what goes with the pasta.
Yes, I have eaten a bowl of pasta that has been dressed with nothing more than butter, nutmeg, parmesan and a smile , but I am the gutsy type that likes really indulgent sauces. Indulgent in taste, flavour and texture… not cash… pasta sauces should never be expensive, mark my words.
Now I thought I was evangelical about pesto. For ages I thought I was a purist believing pestos should only ever be done the traditional way but it is only when I look back at my kitchen experiments do I realise that I’ve toyed with a pesto more than I’ve toyed with anything else. It’s even up there in the same toying levels as hummus!
I told you before about my Dry Roast Peanut Pesto, a twist on Ancient Pesto which suddenly became my go-to sauce for anything (I was even dipping chips in it at one point) but it was when I put together this particular carrot based pesto did I really fall in love with pesto twists.
My friend was coming over for a super quick lunch before we walked the dog and I had some carrots I really wanted to use up. When I asked him what he wanted to eat, he literally just said ‘some pasta please’. So I knew I needed to combine the two.
Pesto is famous for it’s fresh but sharp, salty but herby spike and I was nervous that the addition of carrots would sweeten the deal a little so I needed a particularly nutty blast, so I opted for hazelnuts over pine nuts so that you would still taste the nut note amongst the carrot’s sweet hymn.
Delighted I was. Overcooked I did. Thrilled he was.
He took home the leftovers and I’ve made this Carrot & Hazelnut Pesto twice since.
Look at the amount of pasta I cooked in this picture. Shaming. I can’t say I didn’t eat it all though, because I’m not a liar.
Anyway there’s not real recipe here, just a general collection of ingredients.
In a pan, dry fry a big generous handful of hazelnuts. Don’t fry them until they colour, just warm them slightly. Pour them into a processor and blitz to a scruffy, nutty rubble.
Now add 3/4 carrots. I don’t even chop or peel them, or even take the tops off. Just give them a quick wash under water and fling them in.
Add a big clove of garlic, nice big handful of basil, a generous grating of parmesan, a tiny bit of pepper and a really generous glug of good, strong extra virgin olive oil. Blitz everything together.
If you want the pesto slightly more liquid, add tiny splashes of water until you get the consistency you want.
This will keep in the fridge for ages in a sterilised jar, just pour a little lid of olive oil on top of the pesto in the jar to stop it forming a minging skin and it’s good to go.