We live in Cambridge, but both my and DH’s parents live in the North West, so we find ourselves heading up the motorway with reasonable frequency. And, as a result, we have developed something of a familiarity with the various rest stops and service stations en route. Many of them are best avoided except in times of dire need, but at Catthorpe, where the A14 joins the M6 and M1, there is an absolutely terrific farm shop and cafe – Manor Farm Shop.
It’s about an hour from home, which is the perfect distance for a leg-stretch and a cup of tea on the way out, and ideal for a final rest and picking up a few bits of fruit and veg on the way home. The cafe is really lovely – proper food, freshly cooked by actual people, and brought to your table. It’s nothing fussy or fancy, but their fluffy omelette for instance, made with farm-fresh eggs and local cheese, is really fantastic. They also have a terrific range of amazing cakes, scones, puddings, biscuits and the like. Yum. Children are very welcome and there is a basket of books for them to read – Kipper makes a beeline for it every time, usually before we’ve even sat down!
The shop sells fresh, seasonal, local fruits and vegetables, home-grown dairy, eggs and meat (if that floats your boat – not much use to a Jewish vegetarian!), cakes, confectionary, specialist food items, and also a terrific range of kitchenware and gifts. Well worth a browse.
On our most recent stop, on our way home from the NW, we picked up a few bits and pieces to make dinner. There was a basket of lovely looking local purple sprouting broccoli, and in one of the fridges I found some vegetarian ‘parmesan’. When we got home, I combined these with some spaghetti and an egg to create this purple sprouting broccoli carbonara. The whole thing was ready in about 15 minutes, and was extremely tasty.
You can make this using any vegetable(s) you like – I usually use courgettes, thinly sliced and sautéed in olive oil, but the purple sprouting broccoli was a delicious change. Kipper loved it – having cleared her own plate she started nicking the food off mine! This served two adults and a small person.
- 150g spaghetti
- 200g purple sprouting broccoli
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 egg
- 40g grated parmesan
- Bring a large pan of water to the boil and cook the spaghetti according to the directions on the packet. (Ours was 11 minutes.)
- Meanwhile, trim the broccoli, wash thoroughly, and cut into 5-8cm pieces.
- Heat the oil in a large sauté pan over a medium heat. Crush the garlic and add to the pan with the broccoli pieces. Sauté for 1-2 minutes, then add a few tbsp of water from the spaghetti, cover, and allow to steam for 4-5 minutes until cooked. Uncover and allow any residual water to evaporate.
- While the broccoli is steaming, mix the egg and grated parmesan in a large bowl.
- Once the spaghetti is cooked, drain thoroughly and quickly toss with the egg and cheese mixture. (The heat of the pasta will cook the egg.) Add the broccoli and toss through. Serve.
- You may like to offer black pepper or extra grated parmesan when serving.