Rocket and Walnut Pesto

Summer in Scotland has, thus far, looked like this.

My vegetable garden is protesting.  So much so, there is only one thing growing successfully: rocket.  It’s a hardy wee bugger.  The other plants are hunched and shrivelled and staring sulkily at the cold, grey sky; the rocket, though, is just getting on with the job of being all green and tasty.

Well done, rocket, well done.  Take centre stage for once…

Rocket and Walnut Pesto

75g rocket

60 g walnuts, toasted briefly

60g parmesan cheese, grated

Juice of 1/2 lemon

1 garlic clove, chopped (Not two, David.  Not two!)



Extra virgin olive oil

  • Whizz together the walnuts and chopped garlic in a food processor.  Remove to a bowl.7
  • Add the rocket and a good glug of olive oil.  Whiz until just chopped.  Add the walnuts, garlic, cheese and lemon juice.  Whizz until it looks like pesto.
  • Stir in salt, pepper and possibly some more lemon juice to taste.

Taglierini al Limone

When we returned from Italy I had a list of three dishes I wanted to learn to make.

The first was Aubergine Parmigiana.  Our hotel served a to-die-for version for lunch and I’ve been trying and failing for several weeks to recreate it.

The second was a dish I ate in the fantastic Leon di Oro in Riva: Tagliatelli with Black Truffles and Vezzana Cheese.  I kid you not, the restaurant version is perhaps the nicest thing I’ve ever eaten.  Ever.  Looking forward to making that once truffles come into season later this year.

And the third was Taglierini al Limone, a delicate, fresh pasta dish that I ate in a little trattoria in the lovely town of Arco.  It’s been very simple to recreate and, being so light and so simple to make, it has been my post-run lunch of choice this summer.

Sigh.  I miss my lazy summer lunches.

Taglierini al Limone

(serves 2)

200g taglierini (This is a slim, delicate tagliatelli type pasta that cooks very quickly.  If you can’t find it, angel hair pasta would work well or linguine.)

Juice of one lemon and 1/2 tspn of the rind grated finely

3 tblspn extra virgin olive oil

1 garlic clove

1/2 cup of finely grated parmesan cheese


2 tblspn finely chopped parsley

  • Whisk together the lemon juice and oil until emulsified.  Bash the garlic clove with a rolling pin and pop it in the liquid to infuse.
  • Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil and cook the pasta.  Drain reserving a little of the cooking water.
  • Immediately after draining, add the pasta back to the pot.  Remove the garlic from the lemony oil (you just want a hit) and add the oil and cheese to the pan.  Use two forks to lift and toss the pasta, working the cheese and lemony oil evenly through it.
  • Serve scattered with a grinding of pepper and a scattering of parsley.

Carbonara (the countdown)

Sunday is marathon day.


I’ve been training for months.  But not quite as hard as I could have, perhaps.  The longest run I’ve done in preparation is 18 miles.  People keep telling me that’s fine: if I can do that in training, I can do the extra 8.1 miles on the actual day.  I choose to believe them…   I desperately want to believe them.  But if the worst comes to the worst and I just can’t run anymore, I will walk, hobble or crawl over that finish line!  Whatever it takes to honour the £2555 my family, friends, colleagues and blog readers have donated to Cancer Research UK.

The other thing I’ve been doing for months is eating pasta.  Am I sick of it?  Hell, no.  I could survive on the stuff.  Though perhaps not on carbonara.  If I tried to survive on that, I’d get really fat, really quickly. Carbonara is a treat.  One which I am having tonight, as it happens.  This is how I like to make mine…


(serves 2)

Olive oil

1 onion, sliced thickly

100g bacon lardons

2 egg yolks

50ml single cream

Handful of parmesan cheese

Salt and pepper

175g tagliatelli

1/2 small lemon

  • Fry the onion gently in olive oil until golden brown.  Set aside.
  • Increase the heat and fry the bacon lardons until crispy. Drain and set aside.
  • Add the egg yolks, cream, a little salt and a good pinch of pepper to a bowl and whisk gently to combine.
  • Cook the pasta in plently of boiling salted water.  Drain and toss immediately with the cream mixture, the cheese and a little squeeze of lemon.  Stir through the onions and bacon.

P.S.  There’s still time to sponsor me for the Loch Ness Marathon.  Just visit:


Settling into a new job and training for a marathon has led to a lot of pasta being eaten in this house lately.  One of our favourite dishes at the moment is the following courgette, garlic and chilli pasta.  It’s super-easy, super=quick, carb-tastic and (hooray!) helps us use up some of our garden courgettes.

Courgette, Garlic and Chilli Pasta

(serves 2)

2 tblspn olive oil

2 garlic cloves

A pinch of chilli flakes

2 medium courgettes, julienned (if you can do this without a mandoline, I am mightily impressed)

200g wholewheat pasta

Parsley and Parmesan to serve

  • Bring a large pan of water to the boil.  Add the pasta.
  • Add the oil, garlic and chilli and heat gently.  Once the garlic becomes fragrant and starts to sizzle, add a good pinch of salt and pepper followed by the courgette.  Stir well to combine.  Increase the heat and cook until the courgette is tender.  This won’t take long.
  • Drain the pasta and combine with courgette.
  • Serve topped with parsley and Parmesan cheese.

PS  It’s only four weeks until I take part in the Loch Ness marathon raising money for Cancer Research UK.  If you would like to sponsor me  you can do so at: