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Carrots

Roasted Carrot Pitas with Carrot Top Spread

Roasted Carrot Pitas with Carrot Top Spread

Do you have a favorite veggie? One you love so much that you’ve considered getting it inked somewhere on your body? If so, we should probably be friends.

Carrot Top Spread

For me, that veggie is carrots. Particularly those that come in multi-colored bunches, beautiful green tops kept attached and in tact.

Carrots are simply a delightful sight, and I happen to absolutely adore their earthy, slightly sweet flavor, too.

Multi-colored carrots

However, it wasn’t until, perhaps just last year, that I would do much with a bunch’s tops. Despite this, it had always pained me to dump all of those elegant, lacy greens into the trash. I’m not one to waste food, especially when it’s the kind that comes straight from the ground and still appears rather fresh.

So, I finally decided to do some research. The result? Without too much surprise, I discovered that carrots were edible from head-to-toe, and that I no longer should be trashing their tops.

Since, I remain determined to find new ways to use them. I’d invite you to do the same. (And share your findings with me!)

Carrot Tops

What do carrot tops taste like? To me, the little leaves resemble the qualities of an herb – very unique in flavor and fairly pungent. I’d liken it to parsley, with a fresh flavor that can cut other rich foods, yet with a slightly bitter touch.

Like herbs, I love to loosely chop the leaves, and use them for topping salads and sandwiches. I also love them for a flavorful pesto-like spread, such as this one.

Roasted Carrot Pitas with Carrot Top Spread

Given the flavor of carrot tops, this spread is a bit more bitter than a traditional basil pesto, which is why it pairs so nicely with the sweetness of roasted carrots. The beans add a boost of protein to it and also mellow out the flavor. Together with crunchy cabbage and sunflower seeds, all sandwiched into a pita, this creamy spread feels almost decadent. Yet, it doesn’t require much more effort than it takes to pull out the food processor and place it on your kitchen counter. Thank you to whoever invented this wonderful appliance.

Roasted Carrot Pitas with Carrot Top Spread

 

I chose to keep this dish vegan, but feel free to add some goat cheese or feta on top. You could also swap the pita for a whole wheat tortilla wrap if pita is not available. Enjoy!

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Roasted Carrot and Lentil Tacos

Roasted Carrot and Lentil Tacos

Two days till Cinco de Mayo – that leaves plenty of time to plan for tacos, right? Ample time to switch up prevailing plans of a standard Mexican meal, too.

Carrot and Lentil Tacos

Outside of the corn tortilla, this recipe isn’t the typical celebration piece. But the roasted carrot + spiced lentil combo that lays within it makes the recipe certainly worth veering away from traditional.

If you’re in the market for something new, give it a go. These tacos will still pair perfectly with a classic margarita and side bowl of guac., so don’t think you need to entirely ship your Cinco de Mayo plans outside of the box. I mean, avocados are pretty much a must…

Roasted Carrot and Lentil Tacos

Here, cumin seeds get flashed in a hot skillet and then ground into a notably aromatic, fresh powder. This extra step really makes the lentils shine without requiring much further effort to make them stand out. I.e., don’t skip this step if you can help it.

The toasty flavor of the cumin pairs perfectly with the sweet and earthy carrots that are placed beside the lentils. Creamy goat cheese seals the deal before the taco gets wrapped. If you want, you can amp up the buttery factor by pureeing some of the roasted carrots prior to adding them to your taco. Layer this onto the tortillas as a sauce, and proceed as the recipe instructs. Yum-o. That’s a celebration I’m ready to have on my plate this Tuesday. You with me?!

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Roasted Carrot and Quinoa Pilaf with Feta

Roasted Carrot and Quinoa Pilaf with Feta

Guys. Gals.

Yesterday I received some incredible news.

I’m going to have a garden plot in one of my favorite community gardens in Philadelphia!! I have been dreaming of this day since I first laid eyes many years ago on the magical oasis currently plopped right in the center of what’s now my neighborhood. It’s dreamy. And green. And filled with dirt, and creatures, and veggies, and all the other outdoor components I miss often from my farmer days.

Roasted Carrot and Quinoa Pilaf with Feta

Spaces like these are in hot demand in the city, which of course is no surprise. Generally, they’re locked down with a waiting list so full of names that you could’ve moved to three other towns within the time that they call your name.

Luckily, my roommate and amigo has had her name on that list for three years. And yesterday, she got THE call. I moved into her house a few months ago, and am thrilled to have stumbled into this situation. I am more than excited to scheme up how we are going to takeover the world…I mean, this new 10×10 foot of land.

Roasted Carrots

This was obvious reason to celebrate, and what better way to celebrate a new garden than with roasted carrots? (I would also argue these veggie tats are an excellent source of celebration. But that’s aside the point.)

One of my favorite veggies to grow is carrots because they simply taste 10 times better from the ground than they do from the plastic bags you get at the supermarket.

That thought has me chowing down on this light and healthy pilaf, rich in flavor and salty, feta + sunflower seed goodness. That saltiness gets balanced with a touch of sweetness, derived from both caramelized onions and earthy carrots, to create a well-rounded side dish or lunch.

Sure, those carrots pictured above are from Trader Joe’s…but this recipe’s in honor of my carrot-filled dreams and optimism for spring, when I’ll be eating out of my own garden. Cheers to that!

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Moroccan Roasted Carrot Soup

Moroccan Carrot Soup

Another soup, already? Yep. Sorry about it, but…

I’ve been hit by, I’ve been hit by, a smooth (soupy) criminal.

Soup has now robbed my kitchen and all my recipe idea brain space. After that first bowl last week, on one of the first fully chilly fall nights, my mind was stolen. More soup, please.

Moroccan Carrot Soup

I hope you can get on board with that. And if you’re skeptical, let me tell you why it’s a good idea.

The best of fall’s harvest is in. Soup is gladly here to take it all in, and to fill you up and warm you up without weighing you down before the holidays.

For a hearty, yet light meal to welcome in autumn, I can’t think of anything better than soup.

Which means, I’m serving up two of those spoon-ready recipes in a row. Hope you can handle it. High five to you if you’re more than ready.

Carrots

This is one of my more favorite carrot soups I’ve had in awhile. It’s layered with flavor stemming from two main components: the caramelization from the roasted veggies and the toasted hints from the cumin.

Roasted Carrots
Buying the whole cumin seed and grinding it yourself is well worth the extra step. After toasting up those seeds in your skillet, you’ll see why. The fragrance they give off needs no explanation written out here on this blog.

Bottle that up and place it in a spray bottle, and you bet I’d spritz that all around my house. Likely on my clothes, too.

Moroccan Roasted Carrot Soup

If you don’t have a spice grinder, a coffee grinder will just as well do the trick to quickly grind up your toasted cumin seeds.

Their slight smokiness goes so well with the natural sweetness that radiates from earthy roasted carrots. Add a tangy dollop of yogurt to the mix, and it’s like heaven in a bowl.

Or a smooth criminal, that’ll try to steal your bowl, or mind, for the next few days.

Toasted Cumin

Healthful yet so tastefully satisfying, it’s likely I’ll be making this again soon. Don’t worry, it won’t show up on the blog again. Although, I can’t say the same for another soup soon.


High five again if you’re okay with that.

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Tofu Banh Mi Collard Wraps with Wasabi Peanut Sauce

Tofu Bahn Mi Collard Wraps

Certain neighborhoods of Philly are infiltrated with Banh mi. The classic Vietnamese sandwich essentially acts as the Chipotle of the Asian food world, but even cheaper. You walk in, select your “meat”, and leave within 5-10 minutes with an aluminum wrapped, $5 foot-long sandwich, ready to be eaten. It’s a great feeling.

Scallions

Since it’s so easy to pick up a Banh mi around Philly, I rarely take the time to make it. Yet, it’s hands-down one of my favorites of the sandwich world, and so on the occasion that I’m getting a simultaneous desire for both Banh mi and a chef’s knife in my hand, I put on my cooking hat and grab my own tofu to be canvassed.

Tofu Bahn Mi Collard Wraps

When Banh mi making is going down in my kitchen, you can nearly guarantee it’s going to have a little flair to it. What’s the point of making the original version when I can grab that anytime, with little detriment to my bank account?  Besides, if I’m recreating a dish, I’m always about finding further ways to maximize its flavor since the ingredient make-up lays entirely in my hands. No doubt, that’s going on with this recipe. Wassuppppp wasabi?

Tofu Bahn Mi Collard Wraps

I don’t eat a ton of white bread, but when it comes to Banh Mi, a chewy white roll will always oust a whole wheat counterpart. This is one instance where whole wheat just won’t work. The flavor is unfortunately just too overpowering.

Collard wraps, on the other hand, those can create some Banh Mi magic.

CollardWraps_blog11

Here, collard wraps are able to balance the delicate freshness of the traditional Banh mi composition, while adding an even extra layer of freshness on top of it all. It lightens up the whole meal, while enabling more flavor to shine through. Peel back that one-inch layer of bread, and the notes of deliciousness from the slaw, cilantro and other jamboree of ingredients are able to reach their fullest potential.

Shredded carrots

Be patient with the tofu, and make sure it gets a nice crisp so it can add that contrast to the creamy peanut sauce you’ll place beneath it.

For a fun, spicy twist, this peanut sauce receives a generous punch of wasabi that’ll make it stand out among other sauces. I love the flavor it brings to the subtle sweetness of the peanuts and the carrots.

CollardWraps_blogmontage

True to the grab-and-go nature of banh mi — but more so with the intention to make your wrap-eating a little less messy! — envelope your collard packages in aluminum foil. This will seal in all the flavors so they don’t end up on your shirt. Although, if you’re like me, that’ll probably happen anyway.

I brought that big pile up above into work last week, and served it with a slide of Asian slaw for my coworkers. Two thumbs up, all around.

Since these are destined for pre-packaging, this will makes a great recipe for your own workweek lunch. While best the first day, the wraps can certainly withstand being rolled up the night before and kept in the fridge till you head out.

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