South Leigh Seasonal Recipes

I don’t know if anyone else has found vegetable growing difficult this year? Things took an age to get going and then, when they did, the muntjac, the pigeons and the crows all decided that my little plot was a good place to have a snack - or just pull things up for the sake of it?! However, one or two things have done alright, carrots being one of them. So, when I had to put my mind to seasonal recipes, using carrots seemed to be the obvious choice. Both recipes are good for this time of year - the time between summer and the cooler days that autumn brings. I hope you enjoy them.

Carrot illustration



I don’t know if anyone else has found vegetable growing difficult this year? Things took an age to get going and then, when they did, the muntjac, the pigeons and the crows all decided that my little plot was a good place to have a snack - or just pull things up for the sake of it?! However, one or two things have done alright, carrots being one of them. So, when I had to put my mind to seasonal recipes, using carrots seemed to be the obvious choice. Both recipes are good for this time of year - the time between summer and the cooler days that autumn brings. I hope you enjoy them.

Carrot illustration

Carrot Cake with Rosemary & Orange

This is a single layer cake that can double as a dessert when served with whipped cream, Greek yogurt or mascarpone, but it is also excellent with a cup of coffee. You don’t need a strong-flavoured oil for this cake so it is best to use a basic olive oil rather than a super-special one. This cake stays moist for several days and what’s more, it is gluten and dairy-free.

250g carrots, peeled and grated
150g caster sugar
3 eggs, beaten
125ml olive oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
250g ground almonds
1 orange, zested
1-2 tbsps orange juice
3 tsps of finely chopped rosemary leaves, plus a few extra rosemary leaves, to finish
3 tbsps pine nuts or flaked almond, lightly toasted


Preheat the oven to 180°C / Fan 160°C / Gas 4. Grease the base and sides of a 23cm / 9 inch spring-sided cake tin and line with baking parchment (or use one of those wonderful pre-formed cake tin liners from Lakeland).

Whisk the sugar and eggs until creamy and light then, whilst still whisking, drizzle in the oil until it is all incorporated. Add the vanilla extract, then gently fold in the ground almonds, together with the grated carrots, orange zest, a little orange juice to mix and the finely chopped rosemary.

Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and level it with the back of a spoon. Sprinkle over the lightly toasted pine nuts, or almonds and a few whole rosemary leaves. Bake for 35 - 40 minutes or until the top is light golden brown and a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool for a few minutes before removing the baking parchment.

Carrot cake with rosemary & orange

Sweet and Spicy Asian-Style Pickled Carrots

This sweet and sour pickle will keep in the fridge for 2 - 3 months. It is great served with barbecued and slow-cooked meats, cheese or transformed into a piquant salad with fresh coriander, sesame seeds and a handful of crushed peanuts.

1kg carrots, peeled
400ml cider or rice vinegar
300ml water
250g granulated sugar
1 heaped tsp. sea salt
1 tsp dried peperoncino chillies, or chilli flakes
4 whole star anise
100g fresh ginger root, peeled and very thinly sliced
1 large clove garlic, peeled and very thinly slice


Prepare a large Kilner-style jar (or two smaller jam jars with lids) making sure that everything is clean and warm.

Cut the carrots into very fine julienne strips using a mandolin, if you have one. Alternately, use a vegetable peeler to peel long thin strips or coarsely grate the carrots.

Combine the vinegar, water, sugar, salt, spices, ginger and garlic in a large saucepan and heat gently until the sugar has dissolved. Bring to the boil and and add the prepared carrot. Bring back to the boil and cook for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Using tongs, carefully transfer the carrots to the warm jar/s and pack down firmly to remove any air pockets. Pour over the remaining pickling juice and seal the jar.

Sweet and Spicy Asian-Style Pickled Carrots