Recipe of the Week: How to turn roasted carrots from a side to a main

Jan 22, 2018
You can turn roasted carrots into a main dish with the addition of a hearty grain, such as farro, and a nutritious legume, such as chickpeas. Contributed by Kathryne Taylor

Healthy eating resolutions can be hard to keep, especially if you’re trying to make a dramatic change in your diet.

At first, it might be hard to think of roasted carrots as a main dish. However, as Kathryne Taylor points out in “Love Real Food: More Than 100 Feel-Good Vegetarian Favorites to Delight the Senses and Nourish the Body” (Rodale, $27.50), if you think about something hearty to pair with them, such as nutritious grains and legumes, and top it all with a bright, flavorful sauce and crunchy toasted nuts, you’ll be a lot closer to something that looks like dinner.

Using this template, you could do the same with nearly any vegetable at the farmers market right now, and any extra sauce would be great as a dip or a dressing later in the week. Avoiding dairy? Taylor suggests swapping out the crème fraîche for tahini and adding lemon juice to make a tangy, versatile sauce.

Roasted Carrots with Farro, Chickpeas & Herbed Crème Fraîche

This roasted carrot recipe looks gourmet, but it’s surprisingly easy to make. It would be a lovely side dish or a great weeknight dinner on its own.

For the farro and chickpeas:

1 cup dried farro, rinsed

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 clove garlic, pressed or minced

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 can (15 ounces) chickpeas, rinsed and drained (about 1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas)

For the carrots:

1 pound slender heirloom carrots, scrubbed clean and patted dry

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

Salt and pepper

For the spiced pepitas:

1/2 teaspoon olive oil

3 tablespoons pepitas

Pinch of cumin

Pinch of chili powder

Pinch of salt

For the herbed crème fraîche:

1/3 cup crème fraîche

1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

2 teaspoons water

Salt and pepper, to taste

To garnish: Fresh parsley

To cook the farro: In a medium saucepan, combine the rinsed farro with at least three cups water (enough water to cover the farro by a couple of inches). Bring the water to a boil, then reduce heat to a gentle simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the farro is tender to the bite but still pleasantly chewy (pearled farro will take around 15 minutes; unprocessed farro will take 25 to 40 minutes). Drain off the excess water, and return the farro to the pot. Add 1 teaspoon olive oil, the lemon juice, garlic and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Mix well, then add the chickpeas and stir to combine. Set aside, covered, until you’re ready to assemble.

To roast the carrots: Heat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and add the carrots. Drizzle them with 1 tablespoon olive oil and sprinkle with cumin, salt and pepper. Use your fingers to make sure the carrots are lightly and evenly coated in oil and spices. Roast for 20 to 35 minutes, until the carrots are easily pierced by a fork near the top of their stems. Roasting time will depend entirely on the size of your carrots. I removed some of the more slender carrots at 20 minutes and checked them at 5 minute intervals thereafter, removing the carrots as they were done.

To toast the pepitas: In a small skillet over medium heat, warm 1/2 teaspoon olive oil until shimmering. Add the pepitas and generous pinches of cumin, chili powder and salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until the pepitas are turning golden on the edges and starting to make little popping noises. Remove from heat to cool.

To make the herbed crème fraîche, combine the crème fraîche, 1 tablespoon chopped parsley, water and a few dashes of salt and pepper in a small bowl. Stir to combine and set aside.

To assemble the dish, pour the farro and chickpea mixture onto a large serving platter. Arrange the carrots in a single layer over the mixture. Drizzle herbed crème fraîche generously over the carrots, then sprinkle with pepitas and one tablespoon chopped fresh parsley. Serve immediately or let the dish cool to room temperature. Recipe yields 4 to 8 servings, depending on portions.

— From “Love Real Food: More Than 100 Feel-Good Vegetarian Favorites to Delight the Senses and Nourish the Body” by Kathryne Taylor (Rodale, $27.50)