Monday, August 30
Roasted Carrots with Fennel and Lemon
While we were in Devon earlier this month we went to Riverford Field Kitchen to celebrate P's 40th. The menu is entirely seasonal and although meat is served, the vegetables definitely star. Amongst the many delicious dishes two really stood out. The first was roasted carrots with fennel seeds and lemon*. This elevated the humble carrot which my Mum always cooked 'for the colour' and which P remembers from school with great distaste to something actually delicious. I came home and hunted through my Riverford cookbook, but no joy. A little experimentation later I've come up with the following. You may notice that fennel seed features: it's my new favourite spice (herb?). This year I'm going to harvest the seed from my plant instead of having to pull up 60 million seedlings which look terribly pretty but actually have roots that reach to Australia. Let me know if you want some, my plant is huge.
Some Carrots ( The above pic was for two. They were quite small). Fresh ones are best but sad bendy ones from the depths of the fridge work OK too.
A glug of oil.
Peel the carrots if they've gone a bit funny in the bottom of the fridge. Otherwise just scrub them. If they are small then leave them whole. If they are thicker than an inch then chop off the thin end and split the thick end into two, chopping them into roughly two inch lengths. You could probably cut fat coins, if you felt like it. (Go crazy: carve a goldfish, I dare you.)
After you have finished artistically chopping, chuck them into a roasting tin, and glug some oil in. One glug, I reckon. A big knob of butter instead of oil would probably be delicious if you aren't watching the saturated fat. Then squeeze some lemon over. I found that a whole lemon was too sharp for two people, so let's say half a lemon. More carrots, more lemon. Then sprinkle on about half a teaspoonful of fennel seeds, unless you are feeding six in which case try a whole teaspoonful. Stir the lot around to coat the carrots then season with salt and pepper and bung the lot in the oven at gas 7 for 45-60 minutes. In our case this time is determined by how long the roast takes. The carrots are ready when they are tender. If they happen to be ready before the rest of the food then shove them at the bottom of the oven to keep warm.
If you feel fancy you can chop some parsley over them to serve, but I'm usually too busy making gravy.
Here are some exciting carrot facts:
1) carrots contain more beta carotene cooked than raw.
2) Carrot vitamins are just below the surface of the skin, which is why it's better not to peel them.
3) Pre-scrubbed plastic packed carrots are evil.
4) The variety of carrots most commonly found in supermarkets is grown not for its taste, but for its resistance to breakage.
One of the above facts is the opinion of the author.
*The second was a beetroot salad, of which more later.