Topic: RC: Pasta with roast carrot and pistachio sauce
Author: Robin Garr
Date: Tue Jan 2 21:40:30 2001
This is a recipe that sort of just happened. Last night, while waiting for a Hazan beef pot roast with onions to cook (a four-hour process), I had time on my hands and gradually evolved my original idea of serving carrots in butter to a more grandiose side dish: Roasted carrots and toasted pistachios, blended together into a smooth puree with a little stock and a dash of spice, and then tossed with fettuccine. I did it, and it was good. It was so good, in fact, that it dramatically overshadowed the meat; Mary and I ate all of it, left most of the meat, and wished there had been more pasta.

Naturally I had to do it again tonight, tinker a little, and bring it around a second time as a main course. It was still good. So good that we didn''t miss the meat course. And it even went spectacularly with a bright, fruity cheap Oz Shiraz.

I want to get this down promptly, not least so I won''t forget how to do it. So the following is a bit of a stream-of-consciousness procedure, with a few margin notes where I changed things from one night to the next.

Pasta with roast carrot and pistachio sauce
First, I peeled two or three carrots and cut them into chunks (enough to make about 1 cup). Put them in a small pyrex baking dish with a couple of smashed garlic cloves and just enough olive oil to coat them, and roasted them (in the DeLonghi, Eric!) at 400F for about a half-hour, stirring occasionally, until they''re well cooked and starting to brown.

(Today, I also made a light vegetable broth by starting early, roasting another chopped carrot, garlic and half of an onion, then turning the roasted veggies into 6 cups water with a little salt, a dozen whole black peppercorns, and two whole scallions. Bring to the boil, let simmer for an hour, then strain out the vegetables and reserve the broth. Yesterday I used chicken broth (from Minor''s stock base) as my liquid, but I kind of liked the idea of making a good veggie broth to keep the dish entirely meatless.)

While the carrots and garlic were roasting, I toasted 1/4 cup shelled, unsalted pistachios in a small iron skillet greased with just enough butter to cover the surface (in fact, I melted a pat of butter, then wiped off most of it with a paper towel, leaving the surface just glistening). Toast the nuts over low-medium heat until they''re toasty and aromatic, taking care not to scorch them.

Put 1 tbsp butter in a tall, narrow vessel (I used the mixing jar that came with my stick blender), and put in all the roasted carrots and garlic and about 3/4 of the pistachios, reserving a few. Add black pepper and a dash or two of cumin to taste, taking care not to overdo. Blend using the stick blender (alternatively, this could certainly be done in a standard blender), adding chicken or vegetable stock until you have a nice thick puree. (This should take about a cup of liquid, depending on the amount of vegetables you used.)

While this is underway, you''ve started pasta water and cooked enough long pasta for two. Last night I used fettuccine broken fairly short; tonight I used full-length pappardelle. It was very nice both ways, but I think I have a slight preference for the more "toothy" fettuccine.

When the pasta is just done, drain it, then toss the pasta and sauce together until well mixed. Plate and top with the reserved pistachios (coarsely chopped) and, if you want to make a little fancier presentation, scatter on a bit of chiffonaded radicchio and long strips of carrot and celery cut with a peeler.

I can''t believe this thing sprung almost fully formed from my fevered imagination - the combination of flavors and textures is really excellent, and we''ll definitely be doing this one again.