January food

So the New Year arrived, and with it pledges to eat healthier and exercise more… but first I had a Groupon to use up. Unfortunately my meal gave me food poisoning and I didn’t want to eat anything for quite some time. What a way to detox.

My urge to cook came back before my urge to eat. I ordered a Roots and Greens box from Riverford, their best value box, and it came heaving with carrots, onions, celeriac, leeks, two different kinds of cabbage, beetroot, potatoes and a mystery item which turned out to be a wonderful pumpkin.

Now the carrots are a bit of a problem. They come in every box you order and can be a bit of a challenge to use up. In summer I drink lots of carrot juice, but winter requires a different strategy.

First up, a recipe from Ottolenghi’s Plenty: Ultimate Winter Couscous

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The recipe called for shallots and parsnips but I substituted onions and doubled the carrots. I have to use them up somehow! Anyway, this was a recipe to get the tastebuds going again. Each flavour sang out separately – star anise, cinnamon, preserved lemon, saffron, harissa. Another amazing hit – is there anything in that book that isn’t incredible?

Following on in the Middle Eastern theme, I wanted to try out a recipe from Veggiestan, which I received for Christmas. Fortunately there are several carrot recipes. Calling for 600 grams of carrots, I had to try out the Afghan Carrot Hotpot:

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It was the first time I’d ever used a scotch bonnet chilli. This is actually somewhat strange as I like chillies, but the scotch bonnet’s reputation (and my annoying habit of rubbing my eyes after chopping) had me a little intimidated. I’m happy to report that the chilli added a very pleasing warmth to the dish, but it wasn’t hot at all. I chopped the seeds out, mind, and my chilli was from Sainsbury’s not Peckham, where I suspect they may be a bit stronger! I served it with brown basmati (still on the healthy wagon, ignoring the day off I had in the weekend when I drank cocktails and gained half a kilo…). I’ve cut and pasted the recipe below from Food Stories, who has a nice review of the book and more pictures:

Afghan Carrot Hotpot (serves 4)

2 medium onions, chopped
oil, for frying
2-3 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
1 scotch bonnet chilli, finely chopped
1cm knob of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
Pinch ground cloves
600g baby carrots or the equivalent of grown up carrots, cut into wedges
300g yellow split peas
3 large tomatoes, chopped
1 tablespoon tomato paste
Salt, to taste
2 tablespoons sour grape juice or 2 teaspoons vinegar
About 500ml veg stock (I found I needed a little more to cover mine but then I did have very beasty carrots)

Fry the onions in a little oil in the bottom of a big saucepan and add in the garlic, chilli and ginger. When the onions have started to soften, add in the spices, carrots and split peas, followed a couple of minutes later by the tomato paste and fresh tomato chunks. Add some salt, then either the vinegar or sour grape juice, and then just enough stock to cover all the ingredients. Bring to the boil and set to simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until the carrots and peas are cooked through.

I still have more carrots in the box, even after using some to make a beetroot and carrot salad. What are your favourite carrot recipes?

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