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.
OH. MY. GOODNESS.
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.
ROASTED ROOT JUMBLE
Cumin & Coriander-dusted carrots roasted with fennel, red onion, lemon and halloumi, over polenta.
2 bunches baby carrots from the farmers market, topped, tails intact, some halved to keep all the carrots around the same thickness (so they’ll cook evenly)
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
1 large fennel bulb, cut into 1/2″ wedges
1 large red onion, cut into 1/2″ wedges
1 large lemon, cut into 1/2″ slices
1 block halloumi cheese, cut into 1/2″ square chunks
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 cup polenta/corn grits
2 cups almond milk or regular milk
2 cups water or stock
1 tbsp butter
Few leaves of basil, sliced finely
1) Preheat your oven to 375°F.
2) Toss carrots with cumin, coriander, salt, pepper and enough olive oil to coat. Separately, toss fennel, red onion and lemon slices with salt, pepper and enough olive oil to coat. Turn all the vegetables onto a half sheet pan/large cookie sheet/large roasting pan lined with parchment paper. Throw it in the oven for about 20 minutes. Top with halloumi cheese. Roast for another 20-25 minutes until vegetables are caramelized and soft.
3) While vegetables are roasting, bring milk and stock/water to a boil in a medium saucepan. While whisking, pour corn grits into the pot. Turn heat down to medium, and cook, whisking often, for 30-40 minutes until corn granules are soft. Whisk butter into polenta and season with salt and pepper.
4) Serve small mounds of polenta with generous spoonfuls of vegetables + cheese over the top. Sprinkle with basil and serve! Be prepared to eat at a very quiet table!