I’m back, rested and rejuvenated after an unintentional month off. And what a month it has been! At the beginning of November I took a quick weekend trip to Amsterdam to celebrate a friend’s birthday. It is such a beautiful city, so picturesque and tranquil, which lulls you into a false sense of security. One step in the wrong direction to admire one of the plethora of canals and you almost meet your untimely demise at the hands (or more accurately wheels) of one of the millions of manic cyclists. The other side of the city is a lot less tranquil, and far fuller of inebriated tourists. We spent a hilarious night, two roads away from canals reflecting red lights, singing Maroon Five karaoke, fuelled by the local Amstel beer. In my mind we were definitely the best, but what can I say, I’m biased.
This pasta was born out of tiredness and accidental necessity, but in my experience some of the tastiest meals are. After reading Deliciously Ella’s post on ‘Healthy Eating On The Go’ I have been trying to keep my fridge stocked with roasted mixed vegetables, homemade hummus and a giant tub of home cooked grains or quinoa. A little prep on a Sunday evening and lunches for the rest of the week involve nothing more than spooning the contents of various tubs onto a plate on into a lunch box. Roast a little extra veg and you have the beginnings of several easy to throw together meals right there. This meal can be made in the time it takes to cook spaghetti, if you have a well stocked fridge. This makes it a favourite of mine after a long day on a photoshoot when the siren call of the local Turkish takeaway is particularly alluring.
Butternut squash is one of my favourite roasted vegetables. It is high in antioxidants, and carotenoids (they cause it’s orange colour) which can help protect against heart disease and breast cancer. The delicate flavour of the squash helps balance out the sweetness of the roasted carrots. I prefer to use thyme as I love it paired with mushrooms, and as it grows the most abundantly on my balcony – despite my best black thumbed attempts at nurturing which usually ends in the early death of most of my plants. If you don’t have thyme then any woody herb, like rosemary or sage would work just as well.
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serves 2 recipe by Jenny Brown
for the roast vegetables:
3 medium carrots, peeled and chopped into 1 inch chunks
¼ butternut squash, peeled and chopped into 1 inch chunks
8 chestnut mushrooms, washed
2 tbsp unsalted butter
for the spaghetti:
120g dried spaghetti
1 tbsp unsalted butter
4 sprigs thyme
salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat the oven to 170C, cover the bottom of two tins with (preferably unbleached) baking parchment. Spread the carrots and butternut squash on one and dot around with the butter. Place the mushrooms in the second tin, and put both in the oven.
- At 10 minute intervals, use a wooden spatula or spoon to move the squash and carrots around, this makes sure they are equally coated with butter and cook evenly. The should be cooked through with brown edges after about 35-40 minutes.
- After 15 minutes (or maybe 20 if they are larger) remove the mushrooms from the oven. When they have cooled enough to handle cut into 5mm slices.
- Once the vegetables have been in the oven about 25 minutes, put the pasta on to cook according to the packet instructions. When soft, drain and leave to one side.
- In a large pan melt the butter, and add the leaves of the thyme, discarding the tough stalks. When they are sizzling slightly, and the oil from the herbs has infused with the butter, add the roasted vegetables and mushrooms. Fry for 1 minute stirring constantly to coat everything in the fragrant butter and to stop from sticking to the pan (if using preroasted vegetables this stage takes about 3-5 minutes until everything is warmed through).
- Add the pasta to the pan, and season with generous amount freshly ground pepper and a small pinch of salt (the cheese will be quite salty, so you don’t want to add too much salt at this point). Stir everything together until thoroughly mixed. Serve into dishes and top with freshly grated cheese.
I have given the quantities of vegetables for the two portion recipe, but it really is worth throwing in as much extra veg as you can and keeping it for later.