carrots

Moroccan Carrot and Lentil Salad

Moroccan Carrot and Lentil Salad | A Thought For Food (www.athoughtforfood.net)

Since the beginning of April, our weekends have been consumed by trips to the Cape. We're getting close to the end of the major work. The main bathroom has been gutted, which is probably our biggest obstacle at this point. There are a few exterior elements... an outdoor shower that's being constructed and some painting... that remain. It's both exciting and slightly overwhelming. But that's home ownership, right? I decided to take this past weekend off, opting to stay home and get projects finished up and some cooking done. I've taken a much longer hiatus from the blog than I'd intended, but I have a few things lined up these next couple of weeks. I'm starting off with a bowl of Moroccan spiced carrots and lentils. While it feels very fall, this is a year-round dish... and an excellent side for an outdoor feast.  It's savory and sweet with a hit of acidity from the citrusy dressing. I've eaten plenty of it on its own, but it certainly feels like the perfect pairing for a platter of grilled chicken or fish.

Moroccan Carrot and Lentil Salad | A Thought For Food (www.athoughtforfood.net)

Moroccan Carrot and Lentil Salad

Servings:
6-8, as a side dish

Ingredients:
1 cup dry green lentils, rinsed and drained
1 lb carrots, peeled and cut at a bias into 1/4-inch thick slices
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
Juice of 1 lemon
Olive oil
Salt
Black pepper
2 teaspoons chopped fresh dill
1/4 cup currants
Chopped parsley, for garnish

Directions
Bring 1 1/2 cups of water to a boil in a medium pot. Add the lentils and turn the heat down to medium, letting it simmer for 20-25 minutes, until cooked (but not mushy). Drain of any remaining liquid. Transfer lentils to a serving bowl to let cool.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil. 

In a small bowl, whisk together the cumin, cinnamon, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Add the carrots to a separate bowl and toss with 2 teaspoons olive oil, followed by the spice mix. Spread carrots over the prepared baking pan and transfer to the oven. Cook for 30 minutes, giving the carrots a stir halfway through. 

While the carrots are cooking, heat 2 teaspoons olive oil in a pan set over medium-high heat. Cook the onion for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Transfer onion to the serving bowl with the lentils.

Prepare the dressing by whisking together the lemon juice, 2 tablespoons olive oil, chopped dill, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper in a large mixing bowl. Pour over the lentils and onion and carefully stir to combine, making sure not to mash up the lentils. 

Once the carrots have finished cooking, carefully toss them with the lentils, along with the currants. Season with salt, to taste. Garnish with chopped parsley. Serve warm or at room temp.

Brown Butter Roasted Carrots with Currants

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I'm not one to plan out my recipes. They usually come to me as I'm browsing the produce section; though, more often than not, nothing formulates until I'm in the kitchen. With these roasted carrots, however, I knew exactly how I was going to prepare them. It may seem a bit over-the-top, but there's a reason everyone goes bonkers for all things "brown butter." There's a richer, deeper (often described as "nutty") flavor and it really comes out when you cook vegetables this way. But if you're worried that this dish might be too rich, don't be. The lemon juice and zest, the sweet currants and the earthiness of the carrot greens keep it balanced. With that said, these feel like special occasion carrots, best saved for the holidays. 

BROWN BUTTER ROASTED CARROTS WITH SAUTEED CARROT TOPS AND CURRANTS

Yield
6 servings

Ingredients
12 carrots, with carrot tops attached
1 stick unsalted butter
2 tsps lemon juice
1/8 cup currants
Lemon zest
Salt

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

2. Remove carrot tops from carrots and thoroughly wash both in water. Dry and then coarsely chop the greens. Set aside. Cut the carrots in half lengthwise and then cut the into 2-3 inch pieces. 

3. Melt the butter in a large, oven-safe saute pan set over medium heat. Give the butter an occasional swirl and cook until it's brown and smells nutty, about 8 minutes. Add the carrots to the pan and, using a long spoon, carefully coat them with butter. Season with salt and transfer the pan to the oven and cook for 20 minutes, giving them a quick stir after 10 minutes. 

4. Remove carrots from the oven and, using tongs, transfer the carrots to a bowl, leaving the majority of the butter in the pan. Return the saucepan (with the butter still in it) to the stove set over medium heat. Add carrot tops and cook, tossing occasionally, for 2 minutes. Add in lemon juice and season with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook for another 30 seconds, until greens have wilted.

5. Transfer carrot tops to a serving platter and then top with roasted carrots. Sprinkle currants over the carrots and finish the dish with lemon zest.  

Roasted Rainbow Carrots with Mozzarella

If I had gone to the store before I began cooking, who knows what this dish would've turned into. No doubt I'd complicate things more than I needed to. Sometimes I find it's best to work with fewer ingredients and see what comes about. Carrots with basil and mozzarella? Never would've considered it. But this is what I had in the fridge and, therefore, that's what I was preparing for dinner. The carrots were procured at our local farmer's market just a few days before. I couldn't resist those multihued bundles. They had to be mine. What I love about roasting or grilling carrots unpeeled is that the inside gets tender,while the outside holds on to some texture. I could've put these on anything or just served them as is, but the creamy cheese, fresh herbs and lemon zest give the dish a great summer vibe. 

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Roasted Rainbow Carrots with Mozzarella

Yield
4 servings

Ingredients
1 pound rainbow carrots (or just orange if you can't find rainbow), rinsed with water and dried
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
4 ounces fresh mozzarella
Fresh basil
1 teaspoon lemon zest
Black pepper
Salt
Olive oil

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking pan with parchment paper.

2. If some of the carrots are larger, cut them in half. Place the carrots on the prepared baking pan and drizzle some olive oil over them. Turn to coat each carrot. Season with cumin, garlic powder, smoked paprika, salt and pepper.

3. Roast in the oven for 15 minutes. Rotate the carrots and return to oven for another 15 minutes, or until they get some color on the outside and are tender.

4. Remove the carrots from the oven. Tear the mozzarella into large chunks and place on a platter. Top with roasted carrots, followed by ripped basil leaves, and lemon zest. Season with salt and black pepper. Finish with a drizzle of olive oil.