I’m all dried up.
Or at least the community gardens are anyhow. I’m fine – well hydrated, appropriately lubricated (we’re talking bourbon, right?) and not one day older than 34. Actually, I’m 107 days older than 34 but you know what I mean. I’m all good. Healthy. Happy. Young(ish). Satisfied.
Outside though the ground is stiff (hehe, “stiff”), the trees are bare and it doesn’t get light until I’ve already been up and hard at work for at least 2 hours. Err, did I say hard at work? I meant at work.
I know for a lot of us, January is a time for reflection and renewal. A new year, new goals, new you. Right? But for me it’s also a respite. An opportunity to crawl into over-sized jammies, underneath the blanket my Grandmother knitted when I was just a baby and watch more television than I typically would recommend to anyone. Luckily the blanket is regular human size, not fitted for an infant. Or I’d be huddling underneath a napkin. And no one wants to see that.
It’s a chance to hibernate. Early bed times. Late awakenings… At least on Saturday before I chow down on pancakes and enjoy the newest issue of Bon Appetit or Saveur and catch up on my blog reading. And an excuse to gain 5 pounds without remorse because no one can see it underneath all the layers of clothing that Winter (and a weekly stack of pancakes) brings.
I guess the garden is doing the same thing: Laying dormant, in wait, for the warmth of Spring. Their arms bare save for a few adventurous leaves and leftover – albeit frozen – figs. The community gardens look dead but they’re just saving energy so that come Spring and Summer, they’ll be able to provide us with bountiful stalks of crisp red rhubarb, crisp asparagus, curly tendrils of garlic scapes, tender radishes, and eventually vine fresh tomatoes, juicy cherries, succulent blueberries, gorgeous strawberries, grilled peaches, and pop-a-licious corn on the cob.
I’m fortunate enough to live in Vancouver so it never gets much below 5 degrees Celsius (40 F) in the Winter. But even here, where we’re still able to enjoy cold weather vegetables like kale and carrots and leeks and turnips and Asian greens, there isn’t a lot of variety at this time of year. And let’s be honest, there are only so many ways you can “enjoy” a turnip.
Though plenty of you, I have seen on the Instagrams, have access to just-picked oranges and avocados and tomatoes and all kinds of warm weather bearing fruit.
Hence the reason I’m dreaming of rhubarb, asparagus, garlic scapes, radishes, tomatoes, cherries, blueberries, strawberries, peaches and corn on the cob.
All in good time, my friends. All in good time.
And in the meantime, there’s always blankets. And pancakes. And cellared root vegetables. Like carrots. Nay, roasted carrots.
Now I’m not exactly the biggest fan of carrots in general. In fact, they’re right up there with sweet potatoes for me. But it’s pretty much a universal fact that if you roast a vegetable on a super high temperature with just a bit of good quality olive oil and some flaky sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper, it’s going to be amazing. And these carrots, were.
Nutritious. Beautiful. Seasonal. Supremely delicious. And all ready within 30 minutes.
A lot of my recipes tend to take closer to an hour – an unfortunate externality that comes with making dinner from scratch with real, unprocessed ingredients. But these bad boys, paired with some spiced Greek yogurt and a little kale pesto is a dinner fit for any vegetarian, carnivore or omnivore you can throw it at.
…Please don’t throw it at anyone.
In fact, it comes together so quickly I often make it for lunch. It also happens to be gluten-free and paleo friendly for those of you who care. For those of us who don’t, then never matter – just enjoy.
Sweet Roasted Carrots with Kale Pesto & Spiced Greek Yogurt
Yield 4 servings
For the Carrots:
- 2 or 3 Large handfuls of carrots (think thinner and smaller for even cooking - though if you only have giant ones, chop em up into uniform sized 1" pieces), greens mostly removed.
- Good quality extra virgin olive oil.
- Coarse sea salt & fresh cracked black pepper.
- To serve, fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano, thinly shaved.
For the Pesto:
- 1 Big handful of kale.
- 1 garlic clove, peeled and quartered.
- 1/2 C toasted pecans.
- 1/2 C grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.
- Zest of 1 lemon.
- 1/4 Good quality olive oil.
- Coarse sea salt & fresh cracked black pepper.
For the Yogurt:
- A mixture of spices - dash of coriander seeds, ground cumin, ground fennel, red pepper flakes, yellow or red curry powder, smoked paprika, salt.
- Juice of 1 lemon (approx 1 Tbsp).
- 2 C Greek yogurt.
- Pre-heat your oven to 450 degrees F. on a rimmed baking tray, toss the carrots and olive oil with a nice helping of salt and pepper. Toss well to coat. Place in oven and roast for 25 - 30 minutes or until tender and caramelized. Shake the pan every 7-10 minutes to ensure even cooking and colouring.
- As the carrots cook, make the pesto and yogurt.
- Throw all the ingredients for the pesto into a food processor. You may need to add the kale by handfuls as it breaks down, depending on the size of your bowl. Once everything is all smushed up, look and taste. It should be wet but not runny. Add more olive oil or salt and pepper if necessary for flavor and consistency. Set aside.
- In a mortar and pestle (or spice grinder), bash together the spices until fragrant. Add the lemon juice. Bash a couple more times to combine. In a medium sized bowl, combine the yogurt with the spice/lemon mixture.
- Pile the yogurt, carrots and pesto on a plate, drizzle with more olive oil if desired along with some shaved Parmesan. Eat.
When making simple dishes like this, really do buy or grow or barter for the best you can afford - there's no where for bad olive oil or rancid nuts to hide.The brilliance of this dish is you can use whatever you have on hand - no carrots? Use squash or even onions. No pecans? Use walnuts or almonds. No fresh parm? Use any other grainy, hard salty cheese. Don't have a particular spice? Dig around and use what you have - think warm, fragrant and colourful. Awesome, right?
Are you hibernating right now? What are you dreaming of? What are you loving eating? How do you cook your carrots? Other vegetables? What keeps you warm at night (hopefully not a napkin)? How long does it take you to cook dinner? Are you drinking enough water? Tell me below – spill it!