Field to Feast: Carrots

Every Saturday morning at the Ringwood Farmers’ Market, Kasha and I have essentially the same conversation:

“So, what should we post about this week?”
“I don’t know, what would you like to do?”
“Hmmm, let me think.”

The sides change, but that’s pretty much how it goes every week. So I can honestly say that I just strolled around until I saw a pile of gorgeous carrots and knew I’d found our topic. Sometimes it isn’t about having a great recipe ready to go (though sometimes it is), but about inspiration and beauty.

As I’ve been doing for about a month now, I chopped off the carrot tops and put them in a vase on the table to serve as a makeshift centerpiece. The only time I ever cook with carrot greens is when I use them in a gumbo z’herbes, so this is a good way to use what I buy and decorate at the same time. And I just love the Sideshow Bob look of them.

Carrot greens on display | Minimally Invasive

I jotted down a few ideas for carrot recipes over the weekend, but nothing came of it until today, when I felt like gazpacho. I love spicy, savory carrot dishes and since it’s just a small step from Spain to Morocco, I added some Moroccan influences to my soup with harissa-spiked oil, preserved lemon and chopped cilantro. Many gazpacho recipes call for bread to lend the correct texture, but this was out for me from the very beginning for obvious reasons, so I substituted almond flour instead. It’s appropriate with the other flavors and so many classic gazpacho recipes use almonds that it seemed like the solution was always there, staring me in the face.

Moroccan-Inspired Carrot Gazpacho | Minimally Invasive

Instead of building the recipe from the ground-up, I based this gazpacho on a Martha Rose Shulman recipe from The New York Times, but changed it around quite a bit to suit my purposes. The harissa oil starts out very spicy, but mellows as the soup sits in the refrigerator, so don’t be too scared if you taste it right away and your tongue turns inside-out. Of course, I can’t guarantee it won’t turn blazingly hot after it sits overnight, but promise to let you know if it does.

Update: The flavors blended beautifully after an overnight stay in the refrigerator, but the gazpacho isn’t spicy at all. I’ll probably stir in a bit of the reserved paste to add a little heat. If you want it spicier without the added texture from the paste (which isn’t very smooth), just double the harissa recipe.

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Moroccan-Inspired Carrot Gazpacho adapted from Martha Rose Shulman/The New York Times

1 1/2 oz. sliced onion
3/4 pound cucumber, peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped
1 1/2 lbs. ripe tomatoes, quartered
4 medium carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped,  about 3/4 lb.
2 sticks celery, coarsely chopped
2 large red bell peppers, coarsely chopped, about 3/4 lb.
1 teaspoon crushed garlic
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
2 tablespoons harissa oil, recipe follows
1 tablespoon preserved lemon peel, chopped
1/4 cup finely ground almond flour
Salt to taste
1 cup ice water
Chopped fresh cilantro for garnish

1. Put the onion slices in a bowl and cover with cold water. Set aside for 5 minutes while you prepare the remaining ingredients. Drain and rinse.

2. Working in 2 batches, blend all of the ingredients except cilantro in a blender until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and chill for a couple of hours before serving. Garnish each portion with chopped cilantro (and if you’re brave, a little of the leftover harissa paste) before eating.

Harissa Oil
2 teaspoons dried chili flakes
1 teaspoon crushed garlic
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon caraway seed
1/2 teaspoon coriander
1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and stir over medium heat until garlic and spices are fragrant. Set aside to cool. Once cool, strain oil through fine mesh strainer into a cup, pushing on solids to release as much oil as possible. You should have two tablespoons of oil. Grind solids to a paste in a small food processor or in a mortar and pestle and reserve for another recipe.

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  1. Carrot gazpacho is such an interesting idea! I heart hot carrot soups, so now I’m especially eager to try a frosty, spicy one. 🙂