Squiggly Pasta With Carrots, For Kids

Carrots are an underrated treasure, the most consistently cheap star in any vegie shop. We should all praise the Lord they have never become trendy.

I have very fond memories of this dish: I love the memories of the flavour; I love the idea of using that underrated root the carrot as the star of the show; I love the simplicity of it all. My other memory is an unexpected one. I gave out this recipe, with a few embellishments, on radio and a week or so later, at a party, I ran into a woman I’d never seen before. She collared me, and told me that she always listened to the show, and recently she had been driving home with her four-year-old in the back, and while I was rabbiting on there was a sudden silence in the car. They got home, and mum said to the kid: ‘What would you like for dinner?’ Guess what the little one said: ‘Hey mum, that pasta with carrot sounded fantastic!’

Good judge that kid. The colour, speed, ease of preparation and great flavour make it a winner for the little ones, and don’t forget to get them grating the carrot. Just try to keep their little fingers clear of the sharp edge of the grating tool. It’s the carrot you want, not chunks of little pinkies.

200 g squiggly pasta – I prefer spiralle.

3-4 baby carrots, grated

virgin olive oil

50 g butter, softened

zest of 1 lime (or lemon)

1 chilli, chopped finely – (Check with your kids first?)

a little lime juice

1 dessertspoon poppy seeds

fresh herbs – If it’s summer, go for tarragon or Chervil; in winter, a little coriander is worth a dash; and any other time, lots of fresh roughly chopped parsley

grated parmesan


Cook the pasta, as instructed on the packet. While the pasta is cooking, toss the grated carrot in just-hot virgin olive oil and add the butter, zest and chilli. Toss through, until the butter has reached that very soft stage, just before it gives up the ghost and melts. (Remember when you were/are courting.)


Add the cooked pasta, the lime juice and poppy seeds, and toss all about until incorporated. Now, the butter will give up the ghost, and just melt. (Remember when she/he said ‘Yes’.)


Add the fresh herbs, and work through. Serve the cheese at the table.


  • Fresh limes kill lemons in dishes like this. The subtle flavour of the lime is not overwhelmed, but jumps out at you, as it does in a classic riesling – however, as always, the alternative is fine.
  • The chilli in this recipe is probably not for kids, Aussie kids anyway. We have a little ritual at home, whenever I cook. The chorus starts early: ‘Dad, have you put in any chilli?’ The two girls, Sarah, just six, and Kate, just eight, won’t have a bar of it; Andrew, ten, is gradually getting the hang of it. For him, the eyes-watering stage is taking a little longer to reach these days.
  • The herb you choose (tarragon, chervil, coriander or parsley) will give a particular character – in each case, the dish will be quite different like siblings are different. Tarragon and chervil provide a true licorice flavour to the middle palate. Coriander provides that unique coriander flavour.
  • Tarragon is a marvellous partner for carrots, as compatible as Rogers & Hammerstein. Remember that well when you’re desperate for a little something to pop in the middle of the table for lunch. Grated carrots, some really fine olive oil – or chilli oil, or basil oil – mixed with tarragon gives lunch a real kick.
  • Grated carrot also sits very nicely with your own curry powder, particularly as part of a salad and carrot sandwich. Just replace the black pepper with curry powder.

WINE: Traminer is a tricky grape to get just right. Often a bit oily in flavour and as subtle as a Collingwood full back. The good ones are spicy and aromatic and would sit well here. One to seek is from Delatite in Victoria’s High Country.