I’ve been having one of those weeks where I feel really out of touch. I blame most of it on last week’s heat wave, which pretty much rendered me useless mentally and physically. The heat finally broke Friday night, and I got to enjoy a fun-filled weekend with my friend Nicole. We went to nearly all of my favorite food and drink spots in the area, and I got to try my hand at some fashion-y photos too. (I won’t even pretend to be anywhere near as good as her usual photographer, Clint Mejia. But it was a very fun experience!) Yesterday meant a return to reality, which translates to unanswered comments and emails, along with a daunting list of unread posts in my rss feed and a silent-for-days Pinterest account. Nicole and I spent a lot of time laughing about our “first world problems” this weekend, so yeah, it seems the theme continues. But now, it stops, and we can talk about food instead.
While I was out for drinks with my friend Hugo a couple weeks ago, it occurred to me that I hadn’t done a savory recipe post in a while. (This realization came to me as I was telling him about the 700 different flavors of ice cream I’m obsessing over making at the moment, and he said to me, “don’t you do a lot of healthy things too?”) When I finally remembered what the word “healthy” meant, I decided that I needed to squeeze a respectable savory dish into the summer recipe mix. Especially since at least two of those 700 ice cream flavors will probably happen in the next month, and there’s currently a cantaloupe + Lillet mixture in my fridge awaiting popsicle molds. (Or for me to invent a new dish called summer boozy fruit soup. It’s really tempting, trust me.)
This dish has been a favorite dinner of mine since the young carrots began showing up in the spring. And once the pretty rainbow carrots made an appearance on the store shelves, I snatched them up so I could incorporate them into this recipe and share it with you. Now, I just have to say that this was one of the most annoying sets of photos to edit, ever. Roasted carrots, while tender delicious roots that taste as though they were delivered straight from a 450° heaven, are shiny and wrinkly. Good eats, but not so good photo subjects. Add to that a pool of pickled mustard seeds and a big blog of bright white Greek yogurt to throw everything off, and yeah, adjustment brushing for hours.
Regardless of whether or not this plate looks like a hot mess, it tastes freakin’ radtastic. I accidentally “discovered” cinnamon–brown sugar roasted chickpeas when I was in the midst of an epic multi-tasking kitchen session. I added a bunch of spices to some banana muffins, then went to taste a chickpea from a boiling pot of water to see if it was finished cooking. The combination of the chickpea + the brown sugar and cinnamon still stuck to my fingers was ridiculously good. They are especially delicious in this dish when combined with the lime quinoa. And then there’s my new favorite summer sauce combo of Greek yogurt + pickled mustard seeds + cilantro, which is pretty much the holy trinity of condiments. For real.
I think that the thing I love most about this dish is that it begs to be stirred up into one big freakshow of a plate. It starts out looking rather respectable, but you’ll have mixed it up into a big Greek yogurt–covered mishmash by the time you’re done. And the chickpeas and pickled mustard seeds can be made ahead of time (I never seem to be without a jar of pickled mustard seeds or a container of roasted chickpeas in the fridge these days), which makes this extra easy to throw together. The carrots could of course be grilled instead of roasted, which would be equally delish. Make it, love it, and feel those good healthy dinner vibes. (And brace for more dessert posts. They cannot be stopped.)
(Since this dish is basically just a bunch of separate components, I’ve listed each recipe on its own. The recipes below will serve at least two people.)
one bunch of carrots (I used about a dozen medium-size rainbow carrots)
healthy drizzle of olive oil
a couple pinches of kosher salt
Preheat oven to 450°. Wash and dry carrots, then toss with olive oil and salt and arrange on a baking sheet. Roast until tender and nicely browned — approximately 30 minutes.
Cinnamon–Brown Sugar Roasted Chickpeas
2 cups of cooked chickpeas
1 tbsp of honey
1 tbsp of dark brown sugar
2 tsp of cinnamon
pinch of kosher salt
Preheat oven to 450°. Toss chickpeas with honey, salt, and spices and arrange on a baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, stirring once halfway through.
1/2 cup of quinoa
1–1 1/2 cups of water (depending on type of quinoa — use a 1:2 ratio for white quinoa; 1:3 for red quinoa)
pinch of kosher salt
juice of half a lime
Bring water and salt to a boil in a wide shallow saucepan. Add quinoa, reduce to low heat, and cover. Simmer until all water has cooked off. Add lime juice.
Pickled Mustard Seeds
1 cup of mustard seeds
1 1/2 cups of water
1 1/2 cups of rice wine vinegar
1/2 cup of sugar
1 tbsp of kosher salt
Combine the mustard seeds, water, vinegar, sugar, and salt in a heavy saucepan. Bring to a simmer over low heat. Cook, stirring often, for around 45 minutes, until the mustard seeds are plump and tender. Remove from heat and let cool, then transfer to a container and refrigerate. (They can be used right away, but they get even better after they’ve had a chance to sit in the fridge overnight.) Keep for several months.
Roasted Carrots with Lime Quinoa & Cinnamon–Brown Sugar Chickpeas
Add preferred serving of all of the above to your plate, along with a healthy dollop of Greek yogurt and a good amount of cilantro.