Sunday, 10 April 2011

PPN Carrot Pesto Pasta Bake

Maybe it is because Sylvia slept almost 12 hours without a break last night for the first time in about a month.  Yesterday I had lots of things to complain about.  Today life seems full of good things.  It is autumn and I love wrapping ourselves in warm clothes and dark nights.  Having the table in the middle of the kitchen makes our time there so much more fun.  Sylvia is always a joy but this weekend has amused us with giggling fits, searched for the moon in the dusk sky, and she is saying "yes" a lot.

It seems odd that "yes" should sneak into her vocabulary so late in the peace.  Why would you need to say things like "ukelele" and "dragon" and "Christmas tree" before "yes"?  After hearing "no" so often I love to hear "yes" and the firm little nod that often goes with it.  Maybe she had to wait until life was a bit easier, before she could say "yes".
I made this Carrot Pesto Pasta Bake last week and it fed us well.  I hadn't been grocery shopping so I had to make do with what was in the house.  There were too many carrots.  I couldn't think what to do with them.  I went to my bookmarks and found the recipe on Veggie Num Num.  By the time I had made the changes, it looked quite different.  I used different nuts and burnt them ever so slightly, despite warnings from Trudy.  I added smoked cheese which dominated but took depth of flavour from the pesto.

E says it was one of my strangest dishes.  The finely chopped carrot wasn't quite cooked in the final pasta bake.  The nuts could have been ground more finely if I had put them in the food processor before the other pesto ingredients.  The garlic was so strong in the unbaked pesto that I was glad I had halved Trudy's recipe and didn't have leftovers to use for dip.  This is not a complaint.  Merely the facts.

We both loved this pasta bake.  Pasta can be too heavy for me.  I am always on the look out for interesting dishes that manage to serve pasta with lots of vegetables.  This was one of them.  It was unlike other pasta dishes I have made.  Full of nutty texture and smoky sharp flavours.  Full of vegetables.  Soft and pleasing, without being creamy.  I even loved the crunchy bits of pasta on top.

I used the vegetables in the fridge but any would do.  The cheese wasn't absolutely necessary but if you don't have smoked cheese I would recommend adding some smoked paprika.  Then again, I am quite smitten with smoky flavours these days.  It's all a matter of taste.

I am sending this to Sweet Artichoke for Presto Pasta Nights #209, the inspiring blog event run by Ruth of Once Upon a Feast.

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
This time last year: Sappho Bookstore Cafe - for the literati who lunch...
This time two years ago: Wholemeal Chocolate Cake
This time three years ago: A Long-winded Nut Roast Post

Carrot Pesto Pasta Bake with Smoked Cheese
adapted from Veggie Num Num
serves 4-6

Carrot Pesto:
  • 300g grated carrot (approx 4 medium carrots)
  • 55g almonds, toasted
  • 25g pine nuts, toasted
  • 1 dessertspoon of tahini
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • juice of ½ medium
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes 
  • dash of chilli powder
  • handful of parsley
For the Pasta Bake:
  • 225g dried pasta - I used vegeroni
  • 400g pumpkin, peeled and chopped
  • 70g smoked cheese, grated
  • 1 tbsp parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1/2 red capsicum, finely chopped
  • 2 mushrooms, finely chopped
To make the carrot pesto: lightly toast the nuts and grind in the food processor.  Add remaining ingredients and blend until you have a paste - I had to scrape down the sides a few times to get it to a paste.

To make the pasta bake: first cook the pasta according to the packet (usually approximately 10 minutes).  Add the pumpkin to the pasta about halfway through so it is mostly cooked when your pasta is done.  When the pasta is cooked, drain and tip into a large mixing bowl or back into the saucepan you cooked it in.  Mix in pesto and remaining ingredients.  Tip into a lightly greased casserole dish.  Bake at 200 C (or 180 C fan forced) for about 25 - 30 minutes until golden brown on top.  Ours kept for 3-4 days and was great for dinner and lunch.

On the stereo:
Shamal: Gong


  1. That sounds gorgeous - I love pesto in all forms! :)

  2. What a lovely colorful pasta bake! I totally share your idea of putting as much veggies as possible in pasta and like the idea of carrot pesto!

  3. That looks really fab and I have too many carrots too! Don't have nutritional yeast flakes (wouldn't know what they were) or pumkin (used my squash in soup), but I have everything else. Do you think it will still work?

    ps love the little insights into Sylvia. The yes story made us laugh. I think Cooper may be the same. Even though he only says Mama, he is very firm in his views and letting us know what he wants. He is great at shakinghis head to say no, but hasn't managed a nod for yes yet. Oh well xx

  4. ps wish you were closer, would love to spend time with you and introduce Cooper to Sylvia :)

  5. Thanks Rachel - I love the idea of a vegie packed pesto

    Thanks Vanessa - veggies in pasta is great - esp in a pasta bake

    Thanks Jacqueline - you could easily do this without nutritional yeast flakes - it adds seasoning and a tangy slightly cheesy taste (hence it is loved by vegans) but a bit of cheese or, if needed, extra salt or spices. Trudy didn't use it in hers. And it is a shame we are so far apart - would love to have playdates for sylvia and cooper - and baking days with you!

    Thanks Lisa - yes - my almonds were raw but I would like to try this with roasted almonds

  6. PS Jacqueline - I meant to say that Sylvia has no and shaking the head down to a fine art but yes and nodding still seems a novelty

  7. I am a big fan of vegetable pestos, I've had a pea pesto and a corn pesto on my blog so far. Carrot will have to be next!

  8. I love it when your kids make you laugh. Especially giggles, nothing better in life than giggles.

  9. Here's to many, many more good-sleep-nights for Sylvia and bright happy days for you :) I've honestly never eaten anything like this dish of your, so it intrigues me greatly!

  10. Ooohh...Sylvia is such a darling. Learning how to say 'no' before 'yes'? How did that happen? I think she must be really adorable when she says yes with a firm nod!

  11. This looks wonderful! I also don't like when pasta dishes are too heavy on the pasta (too much carb load), so the only way I eat pasta is always with a lot of vegetables. This looks so creative and easy at the same time! (And I've never made a recipe like this.) I've bookmarked the recipe. :)

  12. What a wonderful autumn dish, Johanna. Forgive me but I'm still trying to get into Spring mode...

    I just love hearing tidbits about Sylvia. I have the notion she is getting comfortable with her being and a yes every now and again asserts her pleasure...

    Thanks for sharing, Johanna...

  13. Yay for Sylvia saying YES! And sleeping through the night! That would definitely put me in a good mood if I were you!

    As would this pasta. Pesto has definitely been a huge craving lately so I need to try this!

  14. Thanks Sarah - I love vegie pestos - have tried pea but never heard of a corn one - must try this

    Thanks Cityhippyfarmgirl - giggles are just so much fun - makes me think of the scene in Mary Poppins where they laugh so much they eat up by the ceiling

    Thanks Hannah - wish I could say the long nights sleeps are the norm but Sylvia just seems to have lost her sleep skills lately - highly recommend that pesto and pasta bake - maybe you could even use nut butter in it :-)

    Thanks Kayla - my theory is that for babies the whole world is a yes and they only learn to say no because that is the stuff that really sticks out for them - whatever the reason it is delightful to hear Sylvia say yes

    Thanks Kath - I occasionally eat pasta without a lot of veg and it is just so heavy that I always regret it - mostly I pack it with veg and love it

    Thanks Louise - it is hard to feel in synch with seasons over the other side of the world but children bring so much joy everywhere in the world (as well as the occasional heart ache)

    Thanks Joanne - pesto adds so much flavour to any pasta and there are infinite ways of making it so I think that is a great craving to have - yes you need to try it (and yes I'd be happier if Sylvia slept all night more)

  15. YES, this does sound unusual, but also delicious! And glad that YES has made its way into Sylvia's vocabulary, too--so funny the other words she chose to speak before that one!

  16. Very interesting recipe. I tend to buy lots of carrots: this looks like a nice way to use them. And I like the idea of using smoked cheese.

  17. This looks so delicious!! Carrots and pumpkin with pasta? I never would have thought. YUM!!

  18. The combination of carrots, smoked peas, cheese and everything else sounds yummy! Funny that E thought this was one of your strangest dishes yet you both really enjoyed it. :)


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