Roasted Root Jumble

My friends, there has been a recipe drought on Aarti Paarti.

Aarti Paarti, a blog primarily geared toward the food lovers (which I suppose means that if you’re a food fighter, this isn’t the place for you. It really isn’t. Bren and I watched “Fried Green Tomatoes” last night, one of my favourite films, and the food fight scene made our collective sphincters tight. I was aghast at the waste of perfectly good chocolate, smeared across people’s faces. Bren gagged over how that would feel, being someone who doesn’t really like to eat with his hands, and will do so only with pinky curled. Really!)

Where was I?

Oh yeah! A recipe! Darn tootin’!

I’ve been so busy on the top-secret-but-now-not-so-secret-project that I haven’t been able to post much in the way of recipes. That stops today people! Here’s one I made the other night, and if you’re a fan of Aarti Paarti on Facebook, then you’ll have seen the photo already. I’m calling it Roasted Root Jumble: cumin and coriander-dusted carrots, roasted alongside some fennel, red onion, sliced lemon and generous chunks of halloumi. Served over a soft mound of simple polenta.

Here’s how it looks:

Oh boy. I threw this together after going on a spending spree at the Farmers Market the other day. I got back home with not one, not two, but THREE bunches of new carrots (purple, orange and yellow). Yeah, I have a self-control issue. What of it?!

Ironically, I’m not even a big fan of carrots! Raw ones at least. It wasn’t always that way though. When I was little, my eye doctor advised me to eat carrots in order to deter my ever-worsening vision. Given that my bright red-rimmed glasses did NOT distract from my overly lumpy figure and my teeth which were too big for my head… I started chomping away at carrots every chance I could get. They became a snack of choice. And while they probably worked wonders for my “digestion”… my eyes did not get any better. In fact, they continued on the trajectory they’d already chosen. Like the rest of my body, they’re pretty stubborn that way.

So maybe I OD’d on carrots. Thank goodness I discovered what happens when you roast them until they’re caramelized. They’re so good, they taste like you’ve glazed them in caramel. And in fact, a friend of mine looked at a photo of them and thought they were plantains, they looked so good!

There is so much that I LOVE about this recipe. First off, it’s a fantastic way to trick people into eating their vegetables. I imagine that kids will love the roasted carrots because they’re so sweet, and just a little crispy. They’re almost chip-like. Plus, with a generous amount of cumin and coriander sprinkled over them, those at your table who are timid about exploring spices, might find themselves opening up to the old c & c combination.

The real revelation in this recipe for me, and I hope for you, is the roasted lemon.


Whole slices of lemon roasted for about 30 minutes turn into something akin to Moroccan preserved lemon — the rind softens enough for you to bite right through it, while the luscious flesh disintegrates and coats the veggies they sit atop. I think I might throw some slices of lemon into everything I roast. It’s THAT good.

Another discovery in this recipe is what happens when you roast Halloumi — that salty Cypriot cheese that I used in Episode 2 of Aarti Paarti. Halloumi doesn’t melt, but when you roast it, it loses some of that intense saltiness that can knock you over when you just fry it up in a pan. Either way, it’s pretty dang fabulous, and definitely my cheese of choice! You can find it at Whole Foods, or at your local Arabic shop (here in LA, I get it at Elat Market on the westside).

I’ve gone on long enough about this recipe. Here’s how to make it.


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13 thoughts on “Roasted Root Jumble

  1. Living in Appalachia I have limited access to non-Pasteurized-Process cheese. I can make Queso Blanco or queso fresco – will one of them do for Halloumi?

  2. Aarti I have watched you throughout the show and cried with joy for you and for us when you won! I was raised in MA where I was fortunate enough to try many different types of cuisine and I’m thrilled about your new show! It would help me and the rest of your fans if you could give us a basic list of spices/ingredients to keep on hand in order to try many of your fabulous dishes. I know that many people will be grateful if you were to do that for us because it would give us a starting point. Thank you and good luck to you and your husband on this journey! Patricia

  3. Aarti,
    I can’t possibly begin to describe how happy I was when you won on the show. *huge hugs*
    It’s so wonderful to know we’ll be seeing so much more of you, and your recipes are beyond divine.

    Thank you for you!!

  4. I had to laugh when I read about your ‘self control issue’ with regard to farmers markets. I went to the downtown Portland Farmer’s Market last weekend and bought so much stuff I later told my boyfriend that I probably shouldn’t be allowed into the market unsupervised in September. Corn, okra, roasted green chile, beans, cabbage, lettuce, beets, celery…aaaahhhh! I found myself pickling okra and beans the rest of the afternoon. Glad to hear I’m not alone in that department. And this recipe looks ridiculously good and if I’m let loose on the market I’ll probably wind up with the ingredients to make it.

  5. Aarti, I now revolve my Sunday activities around your showtime. I love your recipes and tips about food that you share with your viewers. OK, when is the cookbook coming out, cause I am buying one? Keep up the fantastic work and God Bless You!

  6. Aarti, This was sooo amazing, thank you for sharing this recipe and for your innovative take on everyday foods. I love polenta, but usually cook it the Italian way with a red meat sauce. This was so simple yet so delicious. I am telling everyone about this recipe! I have watched your show a few times and loved everything you made, but this was the first recipe I had the courage to make, I figured, cant mess this one up, I hope :) I think Im ready to try to make the somosas and fish tacos!

  7. This looks fantastic! I am headed to Whole Foods today and will include the ingredients I am missing at home!

  8. Aarti .. I was so so happy you won! I live in Toronto .. when will they started your show here?? Am really looking forward to it. Wish you all the very best in this venture and in life.

  9. Delicious. I added parsnips in place of part of the carrots. Maybe my oven’s not hot enough, but I had to up the heat to get the carmelization.
    I like my polenta a little thinner – 5 cups of liquid for 1 cup of corn meal.

  10. Aarti, I am a big fan and cheered for you when you won Next Big Food Network star and record all your shows. I’ve learned so much from you about luscious food and even though I am a die-hard vegetarian, I have always been able to find something in your cooking tips to make my cooking better. Thank you for the episode you did just for us veg-heads too! Stay spunky and beautiful, I’ll be watching and cooking!

  11. I made the roasted veges part of this recipe to take to a gathering where we would have nibbles after (so it needed to be rather finger-food like.) I mixed in some little red potatoes and some sweet potatoes with the carrots, and, not finding fennel, used Brussels sprouts, cut in half and blanched. I also par-boiled the white potatoes. Halloumi has eluded me for the moment so I used feta instead. And finally, I couldn’t resist adding just a pinch of cayenne pepper. Well, the platter almost didn’t make it out of the kitchen with people snatching pieces and exclaiming in delight. I want to try this again with Halloumi and put it over the polenta. It was just yummy!

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