This recipe was one of my favourite, simple ones from my first cookbook, A Girl Called Jack. Originally borne of a way to use up a bulk-buy bag of carrots (in the days before the guinea pig!), and to make veg exciting for a then two-year-old boy, it’s a simple, bright staple in my home today. In fact, I’ve just had it for my lunch. It’s beautiful, simple and delightful, and can be enjoyed all year round. Use whatever herbs you have to hand for the green sauce, I usually like basil or parsley in this one, but the Chief Herb Buyer in our house accidentally bought a ton of dill last week for a cooking project, and I’m reluctant to buy anything else until I’ve made a dent in the dill mountain in the fridge. Turns out it’s really yummy with dill, but if you don’t have it in or won’t use it in a week or two, don’t buy it specially – stick to a failsafe herb that’s easier to use up, like parsley! The breadcrumbs on top can be swapped for hard strong cheese, for my non vegan readers, and leave out the pinch of salt – although I hear rumour that vegan cheeses are available quite widely these days…
Serves 1 at 30p
75g spaghetti, 5p
1 carrot (mine weighed 100g), 5p
a handful (2g) of fresh herbs, 6p
30ml oil (I used sunflower), 4p
2 tbsp lemon juice, 7p
2 tbsp breadcrumbs (I smash up the crusts I cut off for the kids, and the ends of the loaf, the stale badly-wrapped piteous pittas, etc, and store them in a jar next to the bread bin with a teaspoon of salt shaken through to keep them dry, for things like this), 2p
a good pinch of salt and a grind of pepper, <1p
First grab a bowl that’s microwave safe and doesn’t have any metal embellishments on (sorry to nag, but you might be new round here).
Break the spaghetti in half so it fits in the bowl, and place it in the bottom. Cover it with cold water, half-filling the bowl. Pop a plate on top, or cover with clingfilm, and pierce a couple of holes in it with a sharp knife (the clingfilm that is, not the plate). Cook on FULL power for 2 ½ minutes. Stir and leave to stand for a minute. Cook on FULL power for another 2 ½ minutes. Stir and leave to stand for a minute. It *should* be just cooked, but not all microwaves nor spaghetti are created equal, so if it is unpleasantly crunchy, give it another two minutes – but you don’t want it flobby and sticky, because it will have another minute yet….
Meanwhile, while the microwave is doing its thing, make the green dressing for your pasta. Finely chop the herbs (I put mine into a teacup and attack them with scissors, containing them all in one place and it’s pretty satisfying, too…). Add the lemon juice and oil and salt and stir well. Stand to one side. (The dressing, not you.)
To make the carrot ribbons, use a vegetable peeler to strip the carrot into long, thin ribbons, then stack them up and slice them carefully into thinner pieces. Or you can grate them, that’s cool too.
Pop the carrot ribbons in with the pasta for a last minute of cooking, then drain and toss in the green sauce. Top with breadcrumbs or hard strong cheese, a grind of pepper, and serve. Voila.
For a portable lunch, you can either make the whole thing in advance and pop it into a jar or container and take it with you, reheating it in the microwave if you like – but it’s yummy cold too. The dressing stops the pasta from clumping together when it’s cold, although it might need a quick ping to bring it to room temperature. Or make the dressing and ribbon the carrots, and combine the two in one container. Pop the pasta in another container and cook it at lunchtime, then toss the carrots/sauce/crumbs through. Hurrah.
And if you’re feeling super healthy, try it with wholemeal pasta, and add some ribboned courgettes, too. And sultanas. And basically do what you like. Veg is fun, kids. At least, that’s what I tell mine.
Prices based on my most recent Sainsburys shop as it’s nice and close and handy and they sell all the usual useful things. Basics spaghetti 35p/500g. Basics carrots 75p/1.5kg. Fresh dill 80p/25g. Sunflower oil £4/3l. Lemon juice 55p/250ml. Basics table salt 25p/750g. Basics pitta breads 22p/6.
Jack Monroe. You can follow me on Twitter and Instagram @MsJackMonroe and find me on facebook at http://www.facebook.com/agirlcalledjack