I love to work with just one or two ingredients, and this dish is one of my favourites – so much so that it inspired the cover of this book. I like to think of vegetables the same way you would if it was piece of meat: butcher it into parts and ensure you use everything. This dish is a great example of that. More and more supermarkets are starting to sell bunches of whole carrots, including their tops. This gives you more for your money, as the tops are delicious in salads, pasta or turned into pesto. This dish works well as a light lunch or served family-style on a platter as a side for dinner.
Serves 2 as a main or 4 as a side1 bunch of carrots with the tops still on
a drizzle of rapeseed oil
fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
FOR THE CARROT SKIN DUKKAH:
50g nuts (use any nuts that you have – a great way to use up the ends of packets)
1 tbsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp coriander seeds
1 tbsp fennel seeds
1 tbsp sesame seeds
FOR THE CARROT TOP PESTO:
4 spring onions
1 garlic clove, peeled and left whole
1 small bunch of fresh mint or basil, leaves picked
50g nuts (any kind)
½ lemon, zest and juice
3 tbsp rapeseed oil
FOR THE LABNEH:
400g natural yogurt (I love Velvet Cloud sheep milk yogurt)
¼ tsp fine sea salt
First, make the labneh. Stir the yogurt and salt together, then put a clean piece of cheesecloth or muslin into a strainer and set this over a bowl. Pour in the yogurt and tie the cloth into a knot. Put the bowl in the fridge for 24–48 hours, depending on how thick you like your labneh. I usually give it 48 hours so that it has a cheese-like consistency. Scrape the labneh out into an airtight container and store it in the fridge for up to three weeks. (Don’t throw away the whey that has drained out of the yogurt! Use it to make the whey hey hey bread.)
To make the pesto, cut the tops off the bunch of carrots. Remove the thick stalks from the leafy carrot tops and chop them separately. Bring a pot of salted water to the boil. Have a bowl of iced water ready. Once the water is boiling, add the carrot tops and chopped stems and cook for 3 minutes, until bright green and tender. Drain, then immediately transfer the carrot tops and stems to the bowl of iced water to stop the cooking process and keep the vibrant colour.
Remove the carrot tops and stems from the cold water, squeeze out any excess liquid and spread them out on a chopping board to dry slightly.
Put the spring onions, garlic, fresh herbs, nuts and the lemon zest and juice in a food processor and blend to a chunky paste. Add the rapeseed oil a little at a time until it’s all combined. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Store the pesto in a sealed jar in the fridge for up to four weeks. It will separate slightly and naturally form a layer of oil on top, so just give it a stir before using.
To make the dukkah, preheat the oven to 140°C (120°C fan).
Peel the carrots, then spread out the skins on a baking tray (you should probably have around 20g of carrot skins). Cook in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, turning twice during the cooking time, until the skins are dried and crisp. Allow to cool completely – the skins will crisp up even more as they cool – then put the dried skins in a blender and blitz on a high speed until they’re all finely chopped. Tip out into a bowl and set aside.
Increase the oven temperature to 200°C (180°C fan).
Mix the nuts and seeds together in a bowl, then spread them out on another baking tray and cook for 8–10 minutes, until nicely toasted. Allow to cool completely, then transfer to the blender and pulse two or three times – you want them to be chopped but not smooth.
Tip out into the bowl with the carrot skins and stir everything together with a wooden spoon. You can store the dukkah in a sealed container for up to four weeks at this point.
Increase the oven temperature again, this time to 210°C (190°C fan).
If you’re using small or baby carrots, you can leave them whole. If you’re using larger carrots, cut them at an angle so that they’re the size of your finger. Put the carrots in a bowl, drizzle with rapeseed oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss to coat them well, then spread them out on a baking tray and roast in the oven for 15 minutes, until they start to colour and still have a slight bite.
To serve, roll the roasted carrots in some of the dukkah. Put them on a serving plate with a big spoonful of labneh on top, then drizzle over some of the pesto.