In the winter, I am a dedicated eater of various roasted root vegetables served with various sauces (Aloo Chat Inspired Oven Fries and Oven Yam Fries with Miso Gravy). This kind of food is easy, satisfying, warming, nourishing and delicious. It’s the kind of food I need to eat after braving the cold weather. I know that it doesn’t get as cold in NYC as it does in Estonia or Alberta (Hi to my family!). In defense of my whining I would like to point out that I have a fifteen minute walk to an outdoor subway station in order to get anywhere, unless I decide it’s better to just buck up and ride my bike. I get really hungry biking in below freezing weather. Roasted root vegetables with some sort of delicious sauce is the sort of food that sort of hunger demands. The newest addition to this repertoire is Roasted Spiced Carrot with Tahini Lemon Sauce and Pistachios.
The roasted spiced carrots are lifted (more or less) from April Bloomfield’s excellent cookbook A Girl and Her Pig. They are one component in her amazing Carrot, Avocado and Orange Salad, which I have eaten her restaurant The Spotted Pig. I don’t eat out much, but I loved the meal that I ate at this restaurant.
I have made the salad at home, but I do not usually buy oranges and have recently broken up with avocados after having being disappointed n one to many times by over, or under ripeness. Instead, I make the carrots and eat them with tahini lemon sauce and pistachios, since I usually have all of the ingredients needed on hand. I realize that not everyone keeps pistachios around and I think that cashews and maybe even almonds would work well also. I have also made the carrots with a number of different sort of chili peppers (Urfa, Aleppo and Ancho) and they were all delicious. If you are the sort of person who keeps unusual chili peppers kicking about in your kitchen, use them in this recipe! I also mix everything directly in my mortar and in the roasting pan to reduce the number of dishes used in the preparation.
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoons cumin seeds
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoons coriander seeds
- 4 garlic cloves smashed and peeled
- 2 large pinches of flaky salt, such as maldone
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoons red pepper flakes (or whatever dry red chili pepper you like), crumbled
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 50 small unpeeled young carrots (or larger unpeeled carrots cut into 50 sticks about the size of your pointer finger)
- 1/4 cup water
- The juice of 1/2 lemon
- 2 Tablespoons Tahini sauce (I prefer the kind made with toasted sesame rather than raw)
- 2 Tablespoons whole plain yogurt (or avocado for a vegan version that is possibly even tastier)
- salt to taste
- A handful of shelled pistachios, roughly chopped (cashews or almonds would work also)
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Warm a dry skillet over medium high heat. Add the cumin and coriander seeds to the hot skillet and roast, shaking occasionally, until the seeds begin to turn golden and become aromatic. This should only take a couple of minutes. Don’t let the seeds burn. Grind the toasted seeds in a coffee grinder, or pound in a mortar until they are mostly powdered. Set aside.
- Combine the garlic with a pinch of flaky salt in a mortar and pound into a thick paste. You can also do this with a knife on a cutting board. Combine the garlic paste with the ground seeds, chili pepper and olive oil. I do this directly in my mortar.
- In a large baking dish with high sides, toss the carrots and spice mixture so that the carrots are totally coated. Spread the carrots out in a single layer and add 1/4 cup of water to the bottom of the baking dish, taking care not to wash the spice mixture off of the carrots. Sprinkle the second pinch of flaky salt over the carrots. Cover the baking dish with tin foil and bake for 25 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for 30 minutes more. Make the sauce and toast the pistachios while the carrots bake.
- Whisk the lemon juice, tahini and yogurt (or avocado) together. Season with salt to taste.
- Roast the shelled, chopped pistachios in the same dry skillet that you use earlier over medium high flame until they are lightly toasted. Serve the carrots drizzled with tahini sauce and sprinkled with pistachios.
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