I think I’m with a lot of people on the fact that I prefer carrots in raw form. Boiled or steamed ones can be mushy and bland, even the good ones! There’s something so satisfying about that cold, crisp snap of a carefully cut stick along with the slightly green aroma they tend to have when raw.
That said, you can tell me to eat any vegetable once roasted and chances are high that I’ll love it – cauliflower and Brussels sprouts being prime examples. In the UK especially we seem to have resigned those veggies to the ‘boil-to-death’ bitterness which makes them infamously unpopular with children. Roasting helps to caramelise and enhance the natural sugars plus it adds more texture. They become soft and buttery inside with burnished, crispy exteriors.
As carrots are naturally sweet, roasting makes them even more candy-like (no wonder carrots are so f-ing good in cakes! ….Now I’m feeling a strong need to make a roasted carrot cake ASAP). This sweetness can get a bit overwhelming and monotonous as a side so I added a yogurty dressing for contrast. It’s creamy and cooling thanks to the herbs with nuttiness from toasted pumpkin seeds. It swings back into a more savoury spectrum with a special little ingredient: Black garlic.
Black garlic has become a lot more easily available thanks to the publication of the new Ottolenghi book, Plenty More, which calls for it in a few recipes. My mum and I hadn’t seen it in the supermarkets before reading through that book but now, thank goodness, it’s stocked in Sainsburys! The garlic isn’t raw, it’s slow roasted and milder with an added bonus of not giving you garlic breath. Cos mate, no matter how much parsley or lemon you eat after raw garlic touches your tongue, you’d still be tasting it for hours.
- 10 carrots, washed
- olive oil
- 2 tbsp pumpkin seeds
- ~1/4 cup (4 tbsp) cilantro leaves (coriander), plus more for garnish
- ~1/4 cup (4 tbsp) mint leaves
- 1 clove of black garlic, peeled
- 4 heaped tbsp plain yogurt
- ¼ red chilli pepper, fresh or dried (leave the seeds in if you want more heat or add more to taste)
- 1 tbsp water
- Preheat the oven to 350 F (180 C).
- Remove the tops of the carrots, place them into a roasting pan and drizzle with some olive oil. Toss the carrots to coat, and season with salt.
- Place the tray into the oven for 30 minutes, then flip the carrots over and return to the oven for 10-15 minutes until slightly wrinkled with darkened edges.
- Meanwhile toast the pumpkin seeds in a small, dry frying pan: Stir them over a medium heat until puffed and fragrant - this will only take a few minutes. Set aside.
- In a blender (or a small jug with an immersion blender) blitz together the herbs, garlic, yogurt, chilli and water.
- Place the roasted carrots onto a plate or serving dish and layer on the yoghurt dressing. To finish, sprinkle over the toasted pumpkin seeds and some chopped cilantro (coriander).