Root veg spaghetti with tahin

Serves 4

For the vegetables:
2 parsnips
5 carrots
2 stalks of celery
1/8 of a celeriac
1/4 suede
1 leek
All diced to about 1 cm

4 cloves of garlic
1 small red chilli, de-seeded
Finely chopped

Pinch of ground cumin

400g spaghetti

To finish:
A large handful of each dill, parsley, fresh coriander and basil, roughly chopped
3 tbsp tahin
1/2 preserved lemon, flesh discarded and peel finely chopped

Add a good glug of olive oil, the vegetables, garlic, chilli and cumin to a deep frying pan and put on a medium heat. Fry for about 5 min, then salt lightly and cover. Keep cooking over low heat, stirring occasionally.

Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and cook the spaghetti al dente. If the vegetables threaten to run dry, add some water from the pasta.

You can wash and chop the herbs while the pasta is cooking.
Put the tahin in a small bowl, and add some pasta water spoon by spoon, stirring all the time until it has the consistency of a runny batter.

When the pasta is done, drain it adding a good bit of the water to the veg – you want to see a bit of liquid, but the vegetables should not be floating. Mix the pasta, the tahin, the herbs and the lemon carefully into the vegetables, and season with salt and pepper to taste – you might not need any salt as the pasta water should be quite salty. Rest covered for a couple of minutes for the tastes to blend, then serve hot.

Taste gone off

Let’s start this blog with something strange that just happened to me:
While being down with flu and severe fever, I noticed that this did not just affect my ability to stand upright and think straight, but altered my very sense of taste. It wasn’t, like some friends in a similar situation reported, a loss of all but the basic tastes, as is often the case with a blocked or inflamed nose, but a shift of tastes.
I first noticed that a dish of red cabbage, usually an explosion of sweet and sour tastes, was dominated by a dark and earthy flavour – a quick check with my wife confirmed that hers tasted as expected, so that must have been me. Later that night, I discovered the toothpaste had taken on a taste of near-unbearable bitterness, whereas fresh water took on some murky taste. Isostar, on the other hand, tasted really great – much better than it ever should taste in real life, even after a hard work-out. Oh, and bananas suddenly had a horrible taste of artificial banana flavour, like the really horrible banana sweets from the 1980s.

Luckily, most of this seems to revert to normal as of this afternoon, which hopefully also means the rest of my body will recover soon.