On the eve of a new year I count my blessings. I have no extravagant plans today; just simple ones. I am up early and ready to go out for the last of this year’s ingredients. In keeping with Italian tradition, I will put a pot of rosemary lentils on the stove late this evening to celebrate the arrival of January. This morning I am on the lookout for uncomplicated ingredients like onions, carrots and flat leaf parsley. I look forward to bringing home ground cumin and mossy green sea salt in paper-wrappings from my favorite spice shop. Call me strange — but I love grocery shopping road trips.
The following recipe is a spicy spread for bread or raw vegetables. I love how those I serve it to for the first time look politely worried at my bowl of orange-colored mash. Yet the following recipe is wonderfully earthy and a perfect example of how good food can actually be made from a few roots, a squeeze of citrus and a drizzle of olive oil. Think of it as hummus made with carrots instead of beans if you know what I mean.
- 500 grams of organic rainbow carrot of your choice . I prefer orange or yellow
- one-two fresh garlic cloves
- one half of a teaspoon Celtic sea salt
- the juice and zest of one small organic blood orange
- 50-75 ml extra virgin olive oil
- a generous pinch of ground cumin
- an equal amount of sweet paprika or smoked piment d’espelette
- eight to twelve sprigs of flat leaf parsley
Cut off the tops and roots of the carrots and scrub them well. Fill up a pan large enough to accommodate the carrots with water. Add a good pinch of Celtic sea salt and bring the water to a boil. Chop the carrots into equal-sized pieces, two to three centimeters long. Boil the carrots until tender, about eight minutes.
Meanwhile wash and dry the flat leaf parsley. Chop the stems as well as the leaves very fine with a sharp knife. Scrub the orange with a brush under cold running water. Grate the peel with a zester catching, the thin orange curls into a small bowl. Squeeze the juice of the orange and set aside for later use. Peel the garlic clove and slice it paper-thin.
Drain the carrots (saving the water in which they have been cooked for a fresh vegetable broth base). Add half the orange juice and drizzle in a generous tablespoon of olive oil. Mash the carrots while still warm in a large mixing bowl with a potato masher to the consistency of a coarse purée. Add salt and pepper and taste for savoriness. Add more orange juice, salt or pepper if needed. Spoon the carrots onto a platter and smooth it out with a wooden spoon. Make a grid design on top of the carrot mash with a fork and drizzle over some olive oil until the carrot platter shines.
In a separate bowl, crush the garlic with half orange zest and a pinch of salt in a pestle and mortar. Add a small handful of chopped flat leaf parsley and grind the ingredients until nicely bright green with the remaining olive oil. Sprinkle the carrots with ground cumin and sweet paprika, the remaining chopped parsley and the remaining orange zest. Top off the platter with the parsley-garlic olive oil.
Serve the carrot mash with leaves of Belgian endive. Cut wedges of raw red beet or make bright red shavings of them with a potato peeler and put them into a bowl of cold water. Fill the table with olives, fresh red radishes and sea-salted almonds. Grill your favorite bread and arrange it around the spicy carrot mash. Mix and match the ingredients while enjoying the simple good life!
This mash is especially good when served the tahini-yoghurt dip described the special edition on beautiful food and jam jar dressings published last fall. It also makes a perfect topping for oven baked fish.
Flat leaf parsley can be replaced by cilantro. Grating fresh ginger root over the carrots will give it an exotic flavor. Fresh red pepper will give it extra punch.