When planning a formal dinner for guests, I happily spend hours pouring through cookbooks and online recipes, looking for tasty new dishes to make. When making a recipe for the first time, I tend to follow it to the letter. Last minute improvisations are occasionally required when a specialty ingredient isn’t readily available. This was the case earlier in the week, when the menu included Yotam Ottolenghi’s “Spicy Beet, Leek and Walnut Salad” from his Jerusalem: A Cookbook (a current favourite of mine). The dressing calls for tamarind water. I couldn’t find the prerequisite tamarind at any of my local grocers and substituted fresh lime juice for the tamarind water. The end result was delicious.
When whipping up a casual meal, I happily spend minutes foraging through the fridge, cupboards and garden, looking for ingredients that might be tasty together. Today, the colourful heirloom carrots that I picked up at the local farmers’ market caught my eye. I had extra pomegranate and walnuts on hand from making the beet salad and combined them with the carrots. This tasty “Roasted Heirloom Carrots with Walnuts and Pomegranate” dish is the outcome of some easy afternoon fun.
What’s your approach to cooking – improvisation, following recipes to a “t” or??
6-8 medium heirloom carrots
1 tbsp grainy mustard
1 tbsp cane sugar
1 tsp cumin seeds, lightly toasted, then ground
1/2 tsp chili flakes
3 tbsp virgin olive oil
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh coriander
1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup pomegranate seeds
1/2 cup walnuts, lightly toasted, then coarsely chopped
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 400F. Trim tops from carrots, and scrub carrots well. Place carrots in a glass baking dish. Mix the grainy mustard, sugar, cumin seeds, chili flakes and olive oil together. Drizzle the mixture over the carrots, tossing to coat the carrots. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper. Roast in the preheated oven on the middle rack for 20 minutes or until the carrots are tender-crisp and lightly caramelized.
In a ceramic or glass bowl, mix the yogurt, chopped coriander, lemon juice, minced garlic and a pinch of salt together.
To serve, place the spiced roasted carrots on a plate, dress with the yogurt mixture, top with the pomegranate seeds and toasted walnuts. Accompany the carrot dish with Naan bread.