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Walnut and carrot pie and the Flavour Thesaurus

Walnut and carrot pie recipe

This walnuts and carrot pie tastes of wood.

The cookbooks I love the most are the ones that make me think and want to cook.

In this post, in addition to the savory pie recipe, you’ll find four books that are important to me and that I always keep on hand.

Walnut and carrot pie recipe

The Flavour Thesaurus

Imagine a wheel divided into segments, and each slice is a flavor.

When you’re not cooking a dish you’re familiar with, has it happened to you to move around randomly, trying to create something with what was in the fridge?
Every time we cook by following our instincts, it is a personal, home-grown exploration that enriches our flavor grammar with valuable information.
While chefs study how to learn the characteristics of ingredients and how to combine them, home cooks, like you and me, do the same thing but follow instinct and imagination.

A successful dish

The success of a dish does not depend only on the matching of flavors.

A lot depends on the flavor. And I am not referring to your taste. As for five sensorial cooking tastes: sweet, salty, bitter, sour, and the last one discovered, umami.

Cooking also has to do with elements: fire, air, water, and earth.

Take a simple recipe like the sweet castagnaccio: flour and water.

The second ingredient is crucial in determining the flavor. And, in time, the taste of water changed.

Last but not least

Lastly, there is the matter of personal interpretation.
When you change something in a recipe you’ve never made, you introduce a modification that could change its taste. For this reason, the first time I cook a new recipe, I follow it faithfully.

Before changing, I prefer to know the original flavor.
And only later do I decide if and how to modify it.

When I tie my apron, I never know if I’ll sail off on an adventure or stay with the ship in port, anchored as it is with refuge recipes, the ones we’ve been making forever and never disappoint.

Flavor, personal taste, history, techniques, and personal memories are the five elements that fascinate and drive me toward a way of cooking that is practice, study, research, and storytelling.

After the recipe, you will find four books I love to read and flip through often.

Buona cucina, Monica

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Walnut and carrot pie

Walnut and carrot pie recipe

serves 6
Round mold, 18cm diameter
List of Ingredients

Brisée dough

120 g spelt flour
80 g buckwheat flour
100 g cold butter in chunks
50 g cold water
a pinch of salt


220 g carrots
100 g walnuts, dried fruit weight already shelled
2 eggs
70 g grated parmesan cheese
a few tablespoons of milk
olive oil, salt, and nutmeg to taste


In a bowl, mix flour with salt, then add butter and water.
Mix ingredients, form a ball, wrap in plastic film, and refrigerate for 30-40 minutes.
Clean carrots and cut them into cubes. Cook in boiling unsalted water for a few minutes. Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, bring water to a boil in a small saucepan, dip nuts for 3 minutes, drain, dry with paper towels, coarsely chop with a knife, and toast nuts in a hot nonstick skillet for two minutes. Remove from pan and set aside.

Beat the eggs in a bowl with a pinch of salt, nutmeg to taste, and olive oil.

Combine the Parmesan cheese, carrots, and walnuts with the eggs, mix the mixture, and add a few tablespoons of milk, even cold, to make it creamier.

Wet and squeeze a sheet of kitchen paper, place it on a cutting board, and roll out the brisée pastry on top of the sheet, which must be thin.

Transfer the dough into the baking tin with the paper, pierce the bottom with a fork, and bake the base in a preheated oven, 180C degrees, for 10 minutes, without filling.

Take the dough out of the oven. Pour in the filling, and bake the pie again.
Bake for another 20/25 minutes.

Carrot and walnut pie recipe

Reading tips

Pellegrino Arusi – Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well

It is the first book dedicated to Italian national cuisine.
The title advises the reader it is a collection of recipes and a manual dedicated to ingredients and tools with many historical anecdotes. If you’ve never skimmed through Artusi, you should.

Julia Child – Mastering the Art of French Cuisine (Penguin Book)

When I think of Julia Child, the word pioneer comes to mind. Chef, writer, and television personality.

At the Cordon Bleu in Paris, Child learned the basics of international cooking that she transferred to America, educating millions of Americans.
The two volumes contain descriptions of kitchen tools, cooking techniques, and recipes.

Niki Segnit  The flavour Thesaurus (Bloomsbury)

Bible or dictionary of flavors? A grammar how I like it: you have fun while you study.

Michael Pollan – Cooked (Penguin)

It is a journey where the author explores the relationship between fire, water, air, earth, and cooking, reflecting on the evolution of man.

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