This is Ben. He is one of my favorite people at the Goshen Community Market. Ben runs Rumblin’ Ernie’s Farm, and he grows the biggest, sweetest carrots this side of the Mississippi. Not kidding. When Ben first showed up at my market with that steady supply of carrots, it was a game changer for my menus. I have been using his carrots all summer and into this fall. How could I not showcase them on the blog?
Since Autumn weather can sort of turn on a dime, I have two delicious dishes for you—a salad for warmer days and a roasted dish for chilly nights. Both recipes make heavy use of fresh ginger and cilantro, punching up the sweetness of these carrots. The salad is easy, quick and can be made in advance; in fact, marinating it in the fridge is preferable. The roasted carrots require an additional recipe—a savory/sweet ginger and soy sauce from one of my favorite chefs—Annie Sommerville, one-time executive chef at the famous Greens Restaurant in San Francisco. But not to worry, the sauce and the roasted carrots are minimal work in the kitchen and maximum flavor for your Autumn dinners. While I’m sure I’ve included Sommerville’s sauce recipe elsewhere on this blog, I’d be hard pressed to find it now; so it is included in the recipe below! Let’s get cooking…..
- Four cups shredded carrots
- Four tablespoons fresh grated ginger (or to taste)
- One quarter-cup fresh lemon juice
- Two tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (the best you can afford)
- Generous pinch coarse sea salt
- Two tablespoons honey
- One quarter-teaspoon white pepper
- One quarter-cup chopped fresh cilantro
- One half-cup or more dried cranberries
- Crushed salted roasted cashews for topping (optional but good)
- Begin by whisking the ginger, lemon juice, olive oil, sea salt, honey and pepper in a medium bowl.
- Add the shredded carrots, cranberries and cilantro and toss well to thoroughly coat. Cover and store in the refrigerator for at least four hours or overnight.
- To serve, toss well and top with the salted, roasted cashews, if desired.
Let’s Keep Cooking….
- One pound carrots, scrubbed, trimmed and chopped into half-inch chunks
- Olive oil and coarse sea salt
- Four to five tablespoons Sommerville Dipping Sauce from Fields of Greens cookbook (see below)
- Three-quarters cup pitted and chopped Medjool dates
- One-half cup fresh feta cheese, crumbled
- One-quarter cup cilantro leaves for garnish
- Toss your prepared carrot chunks in enough olive oil to coat, sprinkle with sea salt and roast in a convection oven at 425 degrees or a standard oven at 450 degrees for about 20 minutes. Carrots should be tender and beginning to char at the edges.
- Remove from the oven and coat with the reserved Dipping Sauce. Return to the oven for about five minutes more.
- Check after a minute or two to make sure the carrots don’t burn, as the sauce burns easily.
- When the carrots look caramelized and just about to become “too done”, remove them and let them stand at room temperature for about five minutes.
- Meanwhile, chop the dates and crumble the feta. Once the carrots have cooled a bit so that the feta doesn’t melt, sprinkle on the dates and feta and garnish with cilantro leaves. Serve immediately.
Dipping Sauce by Annie Sommerville
- Three-quarters cup soy sauce (I use San J Low Sodium Organic Tamari.)
- Three-quarters cup water
- One-fourth cup sugar (I use local honey.)
- Six thin coins fresh ginger
- One tablespoon dark pure sesame oil
- Two teaspoons cornstarch
- One-fourth cup cold water
Combine everything but the cornstarch and cold water in a small saucepan; simmer over medium heat for 10 minutes. Dissolve the cornstarch in the cold water and whisk the mixture into the sauce. Bring the sauce to a quick boil for one minute and continue to whisk. The cornstarch will bind the sauce ever so slightly and give it a silky texture. Remove from the heat and cool, allowing the ginger to steep until you are ready to store the sauce. Strain out the ginger to store in a jar with a tight seal on the lid in the refrigerator. The sauce will keep for several weeks.
Tricks and Tips
A little extra care makes all the difference in these recipes. Don’t skimp on ingredients: high-quality olive oil for that salad, very fresh feta for the roasted carrots—my feta comes stored in brine from a local dairy just a few counties away. Also, pure sesame oil—dark, toasted and kinda pricey—is a must for the dipping sauce.
You will have a lot of dipping sauce left over…and that is a GOOD thing! I’ve used it as a salad dressing, over roasted vegetables, in stir fry, as a marinade for meat and fish; there are literally a million ways to use this pantry must-have. And it keeps so well! If you don’t use it all up right away, that is. A little does go a long way.
And note, the measurements in both these recipes are not chiseled in stone. Need to feed a larger crowd, just increase the ingredients a bit. If there is extra of the salad, no worries. It will keep a week in the fridge and only gets better with time. You might even consider tossing it with cold shrimp or buckwheat noodles that you’ve coated in some of the dipping sauce. Yep a lot of hocus pocus at work here! Be brave and stir that cauldron.
PS: Wondering what those vibrant purple veggies are next to my salad? It’s red pickled onions–a family favorite from one of my most admired chefs–Patti Jinich of Pati’s Mexican Table. The recipe is a must have.