I like pretty & unusual produce to come in my weekly farm box. It makes me feel special, like I’m some sort of culinary VIP. Luckily, for a few weeks now, my box has included the most gobsmackingly gorgeous rainbow carrots.
There are purple carrots, and yellow carrots, and reddish orange carrots. And there are carrots that are purple on the outside and orange on the inside, like a present within a present. We eat them raw with dip, we eat them sliced into salads, we eat them in slaw…but perhaps best way to enjoy this root vegetable (and I’ve come to believe most any vegetable) is roasted.
Roasted carrots of any hue are rich and almost meaty. The searing heat of the oven blisters and caramelizes the exterior, accentuating their natural sweetness. A perfectly roasted carrot is tender, but not overly yielding–it must still have a toothsome quality (I’ve never been a fan of mush). They are delicious prepared simply, tossed with olive oil and salt. But they become especially sultry when lightly dusted with cumin and cinnamon before going in the oven.
Those roasted cumin and cinnamon carrots are fabulous on their own as a side dish, but I needed to turn them into a filling lunch. So I dug around in the pantry and found a little bit of red quinoa. Perfect! I whipped up a dressing with brown butter, champagne vinegar and more spices and tossed it all together with a handful of cashews and cilantro. The resulting salad was sweet and savory both, a beautiful and hearty winter lunch.
This hearty salad makes an excellent lunch or meatless main course, and despite the rather long list of ingredients, it's quite easy to make. I love the way it looks with rainbow carrots and red quinoa if you can find them in your market, but regular carrots and white quinoa make a fine (and just as tasty) substitute.
- 1 bunch of rainbow (or regular) carrots
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon cumin
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 cup red quinoa
- 2 cups water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 4 tablespoons butter (I like pastured best)
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 2 tablespoons champagne vinegar
- 1 tablespoon honey
- zest from one lemon
- pinch of salt and pepper to taste
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
- 1/4 cup roasted cashews
- 1 serrano chile, minced
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Scrub the carrots, remove their tops and halve them. Place them on a large baking sheet and toss with olive oil. Sprinkle evenly with cinnamon, cumin, salt and pepper. Roast for 20-25 minutes, flipping them over halfway through. They will be done when they are tender, but not mushy. Set aside.
- Prepare the quinoa. Bring the water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add the quinoa and salt and return to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low, and cook for 10 minutes, or until the water has been absorbed and the quinoa is tender.
- While the quinoa is cooking prepare the dressing. Melt the butter in a small skillet over medium heat. The butter will begin to foam and turn golden brown. At this point, watch the skillet carefully. Take the butter off the heat when it becomes quite brown and smells nutty. Stir in the cinnamon and cumin and pour into a small bowl to allow the foam to come to the top.
- Skim off the foam from the top of the butter and discard. Pour the brown butter into a mixing bowl. Whisk in the champagne vinegar, honey, and lemon zest. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Place the quinoa in a large serving bowl or platter. Drizzle with half of the dressing and toss to coat. Add the roasted carrots, cilantro, cashews and chile and toss. Drizzle the remaining dressing over the top and toss well. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste, if desired. Serve warm or at room temperature.