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Root Vegetable "Linguini" with Walnut Arugula Pesto

When Matt came home from the farmer's market last weekend with two gorgeous bunches of carrots, I knew I had to include them in my meal plan for the week, but since I'm not a pot roast kinda gal, I wasn't quite sure what to do with them. Carrots at my house are usually consumed raw, with hummus, but that probably wouldn't quite qualify as dinner... at least not when I'm blogging about it. I found the inspiration for this recipe from the Easy Eats via A Thought for Food via Pinterest, (of course). The version I found was completely raw, vegan, and gluten free, and the pesto they described was a hemp seed oil/cilantro concoction. I'm sure that's all good - and super for those of you so inclined - but a: I don't have hemp seed oil, b: I'm not sure my kids would be down with all that cilantro in one place, and c: what kind of weirdo pesto doesn't have parmesan cheese in it? So I got the information for the "linguini" prep there, then made an arugula walnut pesto that I was more confident would be a hit, put 'em together, et voila...

Carrot and Parsnips with Walnut Pesto

What you need for the "linguini":

  • Good olive oil (a couple of tbsps)
  • Lemon juice (~ 1 lemon's worth)
  • Carrots
  • Parsnip
  • Any other root vegetable you can peel into long strips (salsify comes to mind... mmmmmm...)
  • Salt

What you need for the pesto:

  • 1 - 1.25 cups of walnuts
  • 16 oz washed arugula
  • 1 cup freshly grated parmesan
  • more good olive oil
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic

Using a vegetable peeler just as you would to peel a carrot, peel each of the root vegetables into ribbons and put these in a sealable container. Add the lemon juice, olive oil, and a sprinkle of kosher/sea salt, then seal the container shut and shake to coat the vegetables. Leave this to cure/marinate for 10-15 minutes.

In the meantime, combine the garlic, walnuts, arugula, and cheese in a food processor, and pulse until the arugula is finely chopped. With the blade still running, add the olive oil in a steady stream until that perfect pesto consistency is achieved, then taste and salt as needed. I always find that walnuts add a slightly bitter flavor to pesto, and will sometimes compensate with extra cheese or even with a bit of lemon juice to brighten the flavor. Once the pesto is combined with the sweetness of the carrots, though, that bitterness disappeared.

Once the vegetable ribbons have cured, add several tablespoons of the pesto to the container and shake again to coat. Serve with more parmesan and black pepper (we did sauteed asparagus on the side).Carrot and Parsnips with Walnut Pesto

So honest opinion? This was amazing. It was the perfect summer meal, and I couldn't believe how dead-on al dente the carrots and parsnips got in the lemon juice... like a vegetable ceviche, I suppose. Anyway, the flavors and the presentation quite lovely (though I wish I'd waited until this week's PURPLE carrots arrived at the farmer's market), and I was all psyched to pronounce this a complete success... until my kids sat down and summarily rejected it.

Now, Oliver and Judah certainly present their challenges, but not usually when it comes to vegetables... on that front, they're pretty easy. And they both absolutely love carrots and would eat pesto by the cupful if we let them, so I was pretty surprised that they were so - shall we say - underwhelmed by this meal. My best guess is that in their world, when something looks like pasta and is presented like pasta, it should also taste like pasta, and fair enough: this doesn't pass that particular test. The funny part was that when I got my camera out to record their reactions, they completely refused to give me a thumbs down. Oliver went so far as to say "actually I like it. No, I love it - it's great! Two thumbs up... definitely. I'm just full." Judah laughed his agreement, and gave me a thumbs up too... but look at these faces: a couple of liars if I've ever seen them:Carrot and Parsnips with Walnut Pesto

Forget the kids, though. Pack this for a picnic or a light dinner on a hot night... It's so good and so easy, and Matt and I scarfed every last bit - including the kids' rejects - in one sitting :D

Have a great weekend!