carrot and hazelnut pesto

This bright orange pesto is a joy. Fresh, summery, lemony, sweet and peppery at the same time. And totally vegan! You can, of course, add a little bit of Parmesan or pecorino to the mixture, if you wish, but believe me, it’s not really necessary. All the different tastes blend so perfectly well that you won’t miss the cheese.

This recipe has been inspired by my recent holiday in Sicily, in my Top 3 of favourite Italian regions with Puglia and Tuscany. The food there is divine and so simple! The sun-dried tomatoes are incredibly sweet and tasty and the dried oregano is pure magic: so aromatic! I also brought back with me some roasted hazelnuts to die for: chunky, crunchy and very intense. Plus, of course, some pistachios and a bag of dried chestnuts, all from the Nebrodi mountains.
If you’re in Sicily don’t forget to get yourself some small sun-dried Pachino cherry tomatoes. You can find them at markets and in shops but taste them before buying: they’re not all that great. They’re supposed to be intensely sweet even when salted to preserve them.

I’ve prepared this dish with yellow lentil pasta (spaghetti) but you can, of course, use normal durum wheat, khorasan, spelt or other gluten-free pasta.
The sauce is ready in a matter of minutes. If you don’t have pre-roasted hazelnuts, roast some raw ones in a skillet until golden brown. And if you are allergic to them, you can use pine-nuts.


carrot and hazelnut pesto

Spaghetti al pesto di carote e nocciole

Serves 2

200 gr. of lentil spaghetti
150 gr. of bimi (Tenderstem broccoli)
juice of 1/2 a lemon
salt and black pepper

For the pesto:

2 medium-sized carrots, peeled
1 handful (about 30 gr.) of roasted hazelnuts
5 sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil or soaked in hot water if dried
1 clove of garlic
6 tablespoons of e.v. olive oil
8 tablespoons of water
a pinch of chilli flakes or a little chilli oil
1/2 lemon, juice and rind
1/2 orange, only the juice
a big pinch of good dried oregano or a few sprigs of fresh oregano
sea salt
black pepper

Cook the pasta in boiling salted water until al dente.

In the meantime, mix all the ingredients for the pesto in the blender using the juice and rind of 1/2 a lemon (keep the other half for the bimi and add a little bit more water and/or oil if you want your pesto to be a bit more fluid).

Add as much chilli oil or flakes as you like (I make my pesto just slightly hot) and go nice and heavy on the oregano.

Roast the bimi broccoli in a grilling pan without any oil until slightly tender. It’s nice if they keep a good bite (make sure you don’t burn the most delicate parts of leaves and florets).

Drain the pasta and keep a bit of the cooking water to dilute the pesto if you feel it’s too thick.

Dress the bimi with some lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper.

Toss the pasta with the sauce in a big bowl and serve with the bimi.

TIPS: chop the carrots coarsely before putting them in the mixer.
The lemon juice will keep the color of the sauce nice and bright.