Wednesday, January 19

Nigel Slater’s Recipes for Carrots with Cashew Nuts and Basil Cream | Meal

TO A pile of late-summer carrots, long, thin, and feathery, is a sight to lift your spirits. In the kitchen, they are grated without turning to mush, as early spring varieties do, and are substantial enough to become, along with onions and celery, the backbone of the first simmered dish. of autumn.

Raw or lightly steamed, carrot’s inherent sweetness is overpowered with something tart: a dash of lemon juice, a dollop of thick yogurt or kefir, or a tangle of red cabbage. Roasted, they will soften while the edges become chewy like a caramel, a vehicle for a strong sauce or topping with fresh cream or lemon oil. To modernize a retro shredded carrot salad, I like to add lightly pickled pink onions, chopped lemon thyme, or Japanese pickles.

I prefer the multi-colored carrots found in farm shops and vegetable boxes: roots the color of beaujolais or mustard, crisp and white like a young turnip, others magenta or imperial yellow. The taste is no different than a standard swamp carrot, but stacking them on a plate to make them crunchy with a spicy dip is fun, especially if they’ve spent an hour in ice water first.

I’ve grown carrots from seed in my own garden, fought the damn carrot fly, and eaten my crop of twisted, gnarled roots straight out of the ground (too many stones and clay in here for them, they grow better, though less fun, on fine, sandy soil). But it would take the worth of a full allocation of space to be self-sufficient.

This week, I made a sweetly spiced dish of cardamom, cashew nuts, and cream with my bunch of carrots, a recipe whose golden sauce we scrubbed with steamed basmati. And then a dish of basil roasted roots and crème fraîche sauce that I would love to eat with just about anything.

Carrots with cardamom, cream and cashews

Carrots respond to a mild and sweet seasoning, the kind of smoothness similar to that of a korma. When it’s time to finish the dish, you can successfully add the cream while the stew simmers, but it’s crucial to remove it from the heat before adding the yogurt. Doing so while the dish is bubbling, even a little bit, runs the risk of the sauce curdling. You can also use small, new parsnips, if desired, substituting for half the carrots. For 4 people main course

onions 2 medium
vegetable oil or melted butter 3 tablespoon
ginger 40g
Garlic 2 cloves
carrots 1 kilogram
cashew nuts 75g, roasted and salted
Green cardamoms 12
cumin seeds 2 tsp
coriander seeds 2 teaspoons
ground turmeric 1 tsp
ground mild chili powder ½ teaspoonful
black pepper ¼ teaspoon
Vegetables soup 750ml
cinnamon 1 stick
coriander leaves 15g
double cream 3 tablespoons
natural yogurt 3 tablespoons
rice steamed to serve

Peel and chop the onions. Heat the olive oil or butter in a large, deep skillet over moderate heat (I use a heavy enameled skillet, 24 cm in diameter) and then add the onions. Peel and grate the ginger on the coarse side of a grater, then add it to the skillet. Peel and finely chop the garlic, then add it to the onions and continue cooking, stirring regularly for 10-12 minutes, until the onions are soft, to a translucent pale golden.

While the onions are cooking, open the cardamom pods and scrape the seeds, then, using a spice grinder or mortar, grind them to a gritty powder with the cumin and coriander seeds. Add the browned onions, then add the ground turmeric, chili, and black pepper. Let the spices roast fragrantly for a minute or two, stirring occasionally and taking care not to burn, then finely chop and add half of the roasted and salted cashews. Reserve the other half.

Cut the carrots in half lengthwise and then cut them into 4-5 cm pieces. Once the onion, spice, and nut mixture is well toasted, add the carrots and let them cook for a minute or two before pouring in the broth. Add the cinnamon stick, a generous seasoning of salt and bring to a boil. Lower heat, partially cover with a lid, then simmer 25 minutes or until carrots are tender.

Coarsely chop the cilantro. Add the cream and, when the sauce is back to temperature, remove from the heat and add the yogurt, reserved cashews and chopped cilantro. Serve with rice.

Carrots with basil cream

'The mild acidity of the crème fraîche contrasts with the sweetness of the roasted carrots': carrots with basil cream.
‘The mild acidity of the crème fraîche contrasts with the sweetness of the roasted carrots’: carrots with basil cream. Photograph: Jonathan Lovekin / The Observer

One of my favorites in particular, because of the way the crème fraîche’s mild acidity contrasts with the sweetness of the roasted carrots. The whole dish tastes like summer. A good garnish, in this way with carrots it is also appetizing as a main dish, along with steamed brown rice sprinkled with parsley with black pepper. Makes 4 servings as a garnish

carrots 650g (weight without caps)
olive oil 2 tablespoons

For the basil cream:
mixed parsley, basil and dill 15g (total weight)
lemon juice 1 tablespoon
olive oil 3 tablespoons
cream 100ml

Take out a roasting pan or baking pan large enough to hold the carrots and set the oven to 200 ° C / gas mark 6.

Scrub the carrots (only peel them if they have thick skin, which is unlikely this time of year) and then cut them in half lengthwise. Put them in the roasting pan, pour over the olive oil, grind a little salt and black pepper, then toss them so that the carrots are well coated with oil and seasonings.

Roast in the preheated oven for 45-50 minutes, turning halfway through. They are cooked when they are tender and their edges have caramelized a little.

While the carrots are roasting, make the basil cream. Using a food processor, reduce the parsley and basil leaves, dill leaves, and olive oil to a fine, bright green paste. Pour into a bowl with a rubber spatula and then add the fresh cream.

Remove the carrots from the oven and transfer to a serving plate, then pour the herb sauce over them and serve.

Follow Nigel on Twitter @NigelSlater

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