A glorious mess – curried carrots with carrot top pesto

June 25, 2012 § 20 Comments

Joel left on Friday to go to Ethiopia for a week for work.  At the end of this week we’ll be meeting up in Norway to visit my family and to have a little vacation time.  But, until then, it’s just me and Squid holding down the fort.  The fort that looks suspiciously like our apartment.  Hmm.

Already I’m eating weird.  It’s what I do when I’m eating alone.

I can definitely identify with the people I speak with who tell me they don’t cook or have stopped cooking because they are by themselves.  It happens all the time.  It can be really hard to stay motivated.  My problem, I’ve come to realize, is not that I don’t enjoy cooking for one.  I actually like cooking for one just fine and don’t mind fiddling with recipes to scale them down.  But, I hate eating alone.

For the longest time I thought I was an introvert.  Wrong!  Actually I was just shy.  Terribly, terribly shy, for many years, though much less so now.  But, I get much of my energy from being around people.  Apparently I always have.  It should have clued me in long ago when my mother told me about how even as a tiny child I was perfectly content to play all by myself, but only so long as there was someone in the room alongside me doing their own thing.  Somehow, it still took me until just a few years ago to actually make the connections.

Anyhow, I feel the same about meals.  So much of eating is communal for me, when I’m by myself I sort of forget that I need to eat.  Probably because of that underlying dislike of eating alone.  So, then when I suddenly remember that I probably do need to eat something, my blood sugar is already a little too low and the hanger is building.  I still pull myself together enough to cook, but I slap together all manner of ridiculous thing.

A bowl filled with red peppers and leftover chard stems sauteed with sesame oil plus a piece of gruyere, for example.  Or a bowl with sauteed wilted radish greens, a handful of arugula, some canned salmon and a sprinkling of turmeric.  Or a bowl of roasted sweet potatoes, a scoop of kimchi, and a slice of peppery salami.  (True stories.)   Or a bowl of…you get the idea.

And of course, I rely heavily on that great culinary truth that a runny egg on top does, indeed, a meal make.

I’ve been eating this for the past couple days.  It’s a tasty, spicy little number.  And, I’m thinking of moving on to this next.  But, I also must say, for all its total adherence to my statement that I eat weird by myself, I am quite thrilled with how this particular dish of carrots (with an egg on top, of course) turned out.  It’s rambunctious and boisterous in both its colors and flavors.  It goes overboard on the toppings.  It’s a glorious mess.  And one I plan on having again and wouldn’t even be embarrassed to share with company.

It all started with a bunch of carrots that I couldn’t resist when I went a-marketing a couple of days ago.  When a bunch of carrots and I are left to our own devices together, it often turns into a show-down.  We square off, and then I handily devour the entire raw bunch in a single sitting.  And regret it a couple of hours later.  Which, I guess means that the carrots win.

Determined not to do that, I decided to make more of a side dish with the carrots, pan roasting them with the sweet flavors of curry and a small smattering of plumped raisins.  As I lopped off the tops and was about to send them in their usual compostable direction, I was struck by an urge of frugality or economy or of at least feeling like, perhaps such a lovely bunch of delicate carrot fronds should not go to waste, given I do realize they’re edible.

So, I tossed them into the food processor with a little lemon, garlic, and olive oil, and moments later was rewarded with a thick, emerald sauce tasting potently and deliciously of garlic and green.  After the carrots and raisins came out of their pan, tender and glistening with golden spices, I put them on a plate and drizzled this sauce all over them.  Then I dug out the yogurt container and swirled some of that on top as well, using the creaminess to soften the bite of the raw garlic and compliment the curry.

I wanted to make a full meal of it, so I put an egg on top.  What else?  I poached my egg, but my poached eggs only come out successfully about 42% of the time.  The rest of the time I somehow make ugly alien babies with runny yolks.  So, for the next round I think I’ll fry my egg.  Either way, the yolk oozed golden and silky to pool amidst all of the other flavors.

Nothing about the meal is ostensibly coherent, but somehow it tasted completely coherent.  Like a cog and spring-filled Rube Goldberg contraption that looks insane but when it springs into action it all works perfectly, this may have been a slightly weird and inefficient way to arrive at delicious, but it got me there nonetheless.  And in that moment, eating alone didn’t feel so bad because I knew I’d get all the leftovers to myself as well.

Pan Roasted Curried Carrots and Raisins with Toppings (serves 2)

  • 1 bunch of slender young carrots, with tops
  • olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, smashed
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 1 1/2 tsp. curry powder
  • 2 Tbs. raisins
  • 1/4 cup plain yogurt
  • 2 eggs
  • salt and pepper
  1. First, cut the tops off of the carrots.  Wash them well, and strip the leaves from the stems.  Put the leaves in a food processor with the garlic clove, a pinch of salt, and the lemon juice.  Pulse until the leaves are well chopped.  Then, run the processor while drizzling in about 1/3 cup of olive oil.  Keep blending until it is smooth, adding more olive oil if it seems thick.  Taste and add salt or more lemon juice to taste.  Transfer to a jar or other storage container and set aside.
  2. Wash the carrots well.  If they are quite slender and young, you can leave them whole, otherwise cut them into batons about the length and thickness of a finger.
  3. In a very large frying pan, heat 2 Tbs. olive oil over medium high heat.  Stir in the carrots, the curry powder, and a generous sprinkling of salt.  Cook, stirring occasionally for about 3 minutes, then cover the pan and turn the heat down to medium.
  4. In the meantime, put the raisins in a small bowl and cover them with water.  Let them plump up in the water while the carrots cook.  After about 7 minutes, check the carrots for tenderness, they will probably need a few more minutes.  Cook them until they are tender and well glazed with curry powder.  Drain the raisins and stir them in, getting them well coated with the flavors in the pan.
  5. Divide the pan-roasted carrots and raisins between two plates.  Drizzle yogurt over each plate, then drizzle a couple of spoonfuls of the carrot top sauce over each plate.
  6. Poach or fry two eggs until the whites are just set but the yolks are still runny.  Put one egg on top of each plate of carrots.  Sprinkle with just a little pinch of salt and pepper.  Serve!  You may find you need a piece of bread to mop up any sauces remaining on the plate.  Or just lick the plate.  Who’s watching?
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