Carrots and beets and all the good things

It’s a lot harder to get people to ‘ooh’ and ‘aah’ over beets and carrots than it is to get them to ‘ooh’ and ‘aah’ over artichokes or asparagus, and I enjoy being able to take these humble, ‘lowbrow’ foodstuffs up a few notches and serve them with great exuberance.

Charlie Trotter

Hear, hear, Mr. Trotter! If you have followed my blog for even a little while you know that I love carrots – in fact, recipes featuring this delicious root vegetable are almost becoming a signature. This latest offering is a warm, rich, toasty version of a salad, with a creamy thickened yoghurt base, baby beets, lots of herbs and the crunch of almonds and pepitas. A meal on its own or a perfect accompaniment to slow roasted lamb.

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Serves 2 as a meal, or 4 as an accompaniment

500g Greek yogurt
2 long red chillis, finely chopped
1 bunch dill
5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 lemon
500g dutch carrots, peeled and trimmed
400g baby beetroots, cooked and peeled, or a 440 g tin of whole baby beetroots, well drained on paper towel
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
1/3 cup pepitas
1/3 cup roasted almonds, roughly chopped
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

First of all make the thickened yoghurt. You can do this several hours ahead. Line a sieve with a piece of muslin and place the sieve into a medium sized bowl. Tip in the yogurt and leave in the fridge for 2 hrs to drain and thicken. Put the drained yogurt in a bowl and combine with the chilli, half of the dill (leaves only and roughly chopped), 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, and the the zest of the lemon.

Preheat oven to 180 C. Toss the prepared carrots in 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 1 teaspoon of the cumin seeds. Season well with salt and pepper. Tip into a shallow roasting tray and roast for 20 minutes, or until the carrots are tender and cooked through. At the same time roast the pepitas for 5 – 10 minutes and then set aside. Cut the beets into wedges and toss in 3/4 tablespoon of oil with the remaining cumin seeds.

When the carrots are cooked, remove from the oven to cool a little and start assembling the dish. Spread the yoghurt mixture on the bottom of the serving pate. Sprinkle over a few almonds and pepitas. Next add the beets, and a few of the remaining dill leaves. Then sprinkle over some more almonds and pepitas. Lay the carrots on top, and then scatter over the remaining almonds, pepitas and dill. Finally drizzle over a the remaining olive oil and a teaspoon of juice from the lemon and serve right away. Wine choice – Pinot gris. Music choice – Compassion (Nigel Westlake and Lior)

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And if this recipe does not pique your interest, or if it is warm an summery in your part of the world, rather than at the windy end of winter, dip into the carrot recipe archives for inspiration.

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