ROASTED CARROT AND BARLEY SALAD

Another recipe that was highly recommended by editors of the food section in The New York Times. We will be paying close attention to those reviews from now on, because so far everything we’ve tried has been a total winner. I made a few modifications to adapt to our taste, so I share my version with you. Barley is definitely under-appreciated.

ROASTED CARROT AND BARLEY SALAD
(adapted from The New York Times)

1 cup pearled barley
Kosher salt and black pepper
2 pounds carrots, washed, trimmed and cut into long pieces
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons honey
zest of 1 lemon
2 cups arugula
A handful of cilantro
¼ cup toasted sliced almonds

for the spiced tahini:
¼ cup tahini
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 teaspoon Ras-el-hanout
water to adjust consistency

Heat oven to 425 degrees and place a rack on the lowest shelf. In a medium saucepan, combine barley with 4 cups water; season with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer until tender, about 20 to 25 minutes. Drain excess water if still some remains.

Meanwhile, place the carrots on a sheet pan, drizzle with the olive oil and toss to coat, spreading into an even layer. Season with salt and pepper. Place on the bottom oven rack and roast until tender and starting to turn golden, about 25 minutes.

While the carrots roast, make the dressing: In a medium bowl, whisk together the tahini, lemon juice, Ras-el-hanout, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Add 3 to 4 tablespoons water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until it is smooth and has a pourable consistency.

When the carrots are ready, remove them from the oven, drizzle with honey and sprinkle with lemon zest. Season with a pinch of salt and toss to coat.

In a serving bowl, combine the carrots with the barley, arugula and parsley. Drizzle with the spiced tahini and sprinkle with almonds. Try not to over-eat…

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: This was one of the best side dishes of the year of 2021 that showed up at our table. I do have a very special place in my heart for tahini, so maybe that explains my love for this recipe. You can cook the barley and roast the carrots in advance. In that case, just warm the carrots briefly in the microwave – I mean for 20 seconds tops – because it’s nice to have the contrast of warm carrots with the cold salad. If you are not too fond of arugula, spinach will work too, but there’s something about the slightly bitter nature of arugula that works well here.

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RAINBOW CARROTS WITH ROSE HARISSA

Giving credit where credit is due, I saw this recipe over at Eats Well with Others, and made it that same evening. I did not have pomegranate seeds at the time, so I used diced mango as a sweet component. We loved it so much I made it again a few days later, this time pomegranate seeds were involved, and I can tell they are a must here. Because I used rainbow carrots, there was not that much contrast of color, but their tiny bursts of sharpness and fresh flavor contribute a lot to the sweetness of the carrots. This will certainly be a regular appearance in our meals, at least for as long as I can get my hands on the amazing ingredient that is rose harissa. Thank you, Joanne!

RAINBOW CARROTS WITH ROSE HARISSA
(inspired by Eats Well with Others)

1 pound carrots of several colors
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp rose harissa
1 tbsp pomegranate molasses
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp salt
lemon juice to taste
½ cup pomegranate seeds
fresh cilantro to decorate (optional)

Heat oven to 450F.
.
Peel the carrots and cut into batons. In a large bowl, mix together the olive oil, harissa, cumin, pomegranate molasses, and salt.  Add the carrots to the bowl and toss well to combine. Spread on a parchment-lined baking sheet and roast for 20 minutes, or until starting to caramelize and become tender.

Remove from the oven, add some lemon juice and  sprinkle with pomegranate seeds. Decorate with cilantro leaves, if so desired.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I am absolutely in love with this dish. I had to wait a long time to get rose harissa, since it was shipped all the way from England, so I get very protective of my bottle and always wonder if I should really use it in this or that preparation. Well, this one is definitely worth getting that couple of tablespoons from My Precioussssss.  My love for this sauce should be quite clear from the composite photo above… It is not really hot, it’s intense and complex, with a very subtle floral component from the rose. The more I use it, the more I love it. Which means soon it might be time to cave and place another order for it. Either that or emigrate to UK.

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A NEW WAY TO ROAST VEGGIES

Fine Cooking is my favorite cooking magazine. I do like Saveur, but for some odd reason never cook anything from it, I like Food and Wine a lot, and have mixed feelings about Bon Appetit. In some ways, I think the magazine is going a bit heavy on the trendy, fashionable, hip. Maybe hip is a dated term already, but you catch my drift. Fine Cooking focuses on recipes, good cooking, tips and advice that help not only the novice cook, but those who feel comfortable around the kitchen. My success rate with Fine Cooking recipes is pretty close to 100%, so what’s not to like, right? The latest issue had a nice article on “A New Way to Roast Vegetables” and it’s at the same time simple and clever. They offer many examples of veggie combinations, but the basic idea is that whatever veggie you intend to roast, first you place it in the oven covered with aluminum foil, that will essentially steam the veggie and partially cook it. Next, you remove the cover foil and proceed with the roasting.  To make clean up even easier,  it is a good idea to line the baking sheet with aluminum foil too, so that during roasting whatever could stick to the pan will stick to the foil instead. Of course, you could steam the veggies in a regular pan first, or even pre-cook them in a microwave, but the simplicity of this method won me over.  I did not follow their recipe for carrots, but if you own the magazine take a look at it. They use smallish carrots with the tops still on, and serve them as the appetizer course with a yogurt-spice sauce drizzled all over. I opted for a more austere version, pairing carrots with paprika, not much else.

roasted-carrots

STEAM-ROASTED CARROTS WITH PAPRIKA
(inspired by Fine Cooking)

5 large carrots, cut any way you like
drizzle of olive oil to coat them
1/4 teaspoon paprika
salt and black pepper to taste

Heat the over to 440 F.

Place the cut carrots in a large bowl, drizzle with the olive oil, and sprinkle spices all over.

Mix well to coat.

Line a baking dish with aluminum foil to allow for easier cleaning later. Make sure to use a rimmed baking sheet, not a baking utensil with tall sides, that will prevent proper browning.  Arrange the carrots on a single layer, cover the baking sheet with a second sheet of aluminum foil, and place in the oven for 15 minutes.

Carefully remove the top aluminum foil (use tongs), and leave it in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes more, moving the pieces around after 10 minutes.  Serve right away.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

roasting

Comments: We absolutely loved the texture of these carrots. I normally find that roasted carrots need to be cut pretty small to allow for homogeneous cooking at high temperature, and even doing that I end up with some pieces that are too hard, some too soft.  This method delivers on all counts, texture and flavor. Of course, you can use all sorts of spices, maybe a bit of maple syrup or Sriracha together with the olive oil (I’ll be trying that combo soon),  and serve the carrots with a yogurt-based sauce, with tahini, lemon, whatever you crave at the moment.   As I mentioned, I opted for a very basic version, which is a real test for the method, no distractions. Cauliflower, potatoes, eggplant, turnips, they can all be roasted this way, for the most part all veggies have enough moisture to steam while covered.

roasted-carrots-with-paprika

 

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ONE YEAR AGO: Two Takes on Raspberries

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A SMASHING PAIR

No, I am not talking about Phil and I, although the thought crossed my mind…  It is actually a quote from my newest cookbook:

Have you tried roasted carrots and avocados together?
What a smashing pair!

I don’t think I ever thought of mixing carrots with avocados, but the other day a simple email with notification of a new post by Kelly arrived, and I dropped everything I was doing to check it out. She shared the recipe for a gorgeous quinoa concoction found in  “The Clever Cookbook.”  Cute name, almost as cute as the blog hosted by the author, Emilie: The Clever Carrot. I can see you’re smiling now, it’s impossible not to smile at the name. I need another cookbook as I need a third eye, but my will power for certain temptations is non-existent. I don’t even try to put up a fight anymore, just go to amazon and get the job done.  Ordering the Kindle version minimizes the amount of guilt, in case you are wondering how I deal with my weaknesses.

That night I laid in bed for a long time reading the book,  and could not wait to make this salad, because who could resist getting acquainted with a smashing pair? Less than 24 hours later the salad was part of our dinner, and it was a tremendous success!  I urge you to try it too. I modified the recipe a bit, but you can find Emilie’s original in her book,  which by the way is a total delight! You need to have it, so don’t even bother resisting.

Spice Roasted Carrot and Avocado Salad

SPICE-ROASTED CARROT AND AVOCADO SALAD
(adapted from The Clever Cookbook)
printed with permission from Emilie Raffa)

4 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 tbsp olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 heaped tsp Southwest spice blend (I used Penzey’s)
1/4 cup slivered almonds
a few yellow grape tomatoes, halved
1 ripe Hass avocado
Juice of ½ lemon
Pinch of salt
arugula leaves

Heat your oven to 425 ° F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the carrots in a large bowl. Add the olive oil and sprinkle with Southwest spice, and a little salt. Toss well to coat. Spread the carrots out on your sheet pan. Roast for about 20 minutes, or until the carrots are caramelized and tender. In the final 5 minutes, add the slivered almonds on top. Remove from the oven, add the tomatoes.  Give it a good stir. Allow the mixture to cool slightly while you dice the avocado and drizzle the pieces with lemon juice to prevent browning.

Add the avocados to the carrots, and toss gently to combine. Place the mixture on top of arugula leaves on a serving bowl, drizzle olive oil and some more lemon juice, adjust seasoning with salt. Toss very gently and serve at room temperature.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

 

clevercookbookcomp

Comments: Talk about a delicious dinner! It’s not everyday that a salad draws enthusiastic compliments from my beloved husband. We both went crazy for this one, and Phil in particular thought that the grilled chicken was a perfect match, making the meal worthy of a fancy French style bistrot. On a slight tangent: the chicken was super simple.  I marinated boneless, skinless chicken thighs early in the morning in a mixture of yogurt,  a touch of olive oil, lemon juice, paprika and turmeric. A smidgen of agave nectar just because. When it was time for dinner, I scraped the marinade off, seasoned the meat with salt and pepper, and grilled until done. The combination of sweet roasted carrots, the hint of spice, and the creaminess of the avocado was irresistible!

served
The salad has enough substance to stand proud on a fully vegetarian menu. Maybe paired with a hearty pasta dish, or next to crostini with mushrooms and cheese?  Or you can skip the greens and use the smashing mixture over grains such as farro or quinoa. Your call.

Emilie, thank you for allowing me to publish your recipe…
I must say you are absolutely right, roasted carrots and avocados are “a smashing pair!”

Now, a little bit about the book…

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The book is organized in a slightly unusual way. You won’t find chapters for Main Dishes, Appetizers, or even a particular kind of ingredient. Instead, her approach is to divide the book in strategies that make your life easier in the kitchen. For instance, the first chapter is called “Prep Ahead Vegetables”, and shows how if you invest a little time in prepping veggies they can help you out in many recipes. The chapter includes soups like 30 minute Broccoli and Feta Soup which immediately called my name.  The following chapter, “Back to Basics”  lists her “non-negotiable” items. Stuff that she always has around like toothpaste, chocolate, and the cell phone  (yeah, she is adorably witty). In that chapter, you’ll learn how to make her Triple Duty Chicken Stock, Basic Tomato Sauce, and Master Stir Fry Sauce. Well, you get the gist of it. A little investment of time to make batches of those, and cooking on a daily basis will be a breeze.   But my favorite chapter was one called “Process This.” Clever ways (it is a clever cookbook, after all) to use the food processor. I must try her Banana Cloud Cake included in the chapter, and the user-friendly No-Peel Butternut Squash Soup (sounds like a dream, right?).  Two other chapters that I was quite fond of: “Batch Cooked Grains” and “Freezer Marinades.” The Clever Cookbook is definitely one that will not sit collecting dust in your shelf.  If you are a busy person, with or without kids around, this book is a must-have. To order, follow this link. And while you are around the ordering process, go ahead and subscribe to Emilie’s blog too. I did, because I don’t want to miss her future culinary adventures…

Kelly, thanks for the heads up about Emilie’s cookbook and blog. Loved “meeting” her through you…

😉

ONE YEAR AGO: Spinach and Mushroom Stuffed Pork Tenderloin

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MILLET COUSCOUS WITH ROASTED CARROTS

Saw this recipe in Bon Appetit.  Made it that same evening for dinner. Lightning speed. Not that usual for me, but I had all the ingredients and was also anxious to cook millet for the first time. One of our grocery stores carries a very nice assortment of grains, seeds & flours in bulk. It is quite convenient when I feel like baking a special bread but do not want to carry home 1kg of oat flour or some other exotic being.  Millet was one of the goodies I brought home from a recent visit.   This recipe, a perfect way to welcome it in our kitchen.

MilletCouscous3

 

MILLET COUSCOUS WITH ROASTED CARROTS
(from Bon Appetit)

4 tablespoons olive oil, divided (I used a bit less)
1 cup millet
½ teaspoon cumin seeds
2 + ¼ cups chicken broth
6 medium carrots, peeled, cut into 1” pieces
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
¼ cup roasted almonds, chopped
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
¼ cup fresh cilantro leaves with tender stems (I omitted, did not have any around)

Heat oven to 400°. Toss carrots with 2 Tbsp. oil on a rimmed baking sheet; season with salt and pepper. Roast until tender and golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes.

Heat 1 Tbsp. oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add millet and cumin seeds and cook, stirring, until beginning to brown, about 2 minutes. Add broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until millet is tender, 25–35 minutes (it took me closer to 35 minutes).

Heat remaining 1 Tbsp. oil (I used about 1 teaspoon instead) in a small skillet over low heat; cook almonds and cayenne, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Serve millet topped with carrots, cilantro, and almond mixture.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

comosite
When I told Phil we were not having “real couscous”, he was a bit surprised. It looks almost exactly the same as semolina couscous. It takes longer to cook, though, and has a firmer texture. The flavor is slightly more “nutty”, but still quite mild.  I imagine most people will love it, there’s really nothing not to like about it. Plus, like your regular couscous, it will absorb the flavors of everything else you cook with it. Use  a flavorful chicken or veggie stock if you have it around.  The roasted carrots and sautéed almonds turn it into almost a complete meal.  Of course, we enjoyed it with a nice roast chicken, just because… Full disclosure: the roast chicken was prepared at the grocery store.  And I am not even slightly ashamed to admit it.

On a slight tangent,  a couple of years ago I read a pretty good article written by one of the popular celebrity chefs, I don’t remember who it was,  it was not Thomas Keller, but some other star almost as bright.  Anyway, he went on and on about never buying a roast chicken from a rotisserie. That he could have a much better dinner by buying the chicken (organic, of course), sticking it in the oven with just a sprinkle of salt, pepper, a lemon or two quickly placed inside the bird.  I am all for cooking from scratch, but I must say a chicken ready for me on my way home from work is very handy. It makes life so much easier! I don’t have to deal with the raw chicken, I don’t have to wait for my oven to warm up to temperature (it does take a while with our potent Supernova), and I can concentrate on making a quick and easy side dish such as couscous, or from now on, millet…   So, yes, 8 times out of 10, I reach for a rotisserie chicken.  And 6 times out of 10, I resort to cheese pre-shredded, from a bag.

Confession: good for the food blogger 😉

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