Roasted Carrots and Beets à la Moroccan
Does it seem like I've been posting Moroccan and other faraway flavors a lot lately? Why yes, it sure does. And I'll tell you why: because it's winter and winter demands traveling to hot places where the sun blazes and the markets are bustling. And when you can't afford to constantly be hopping over to Morocco or Tunisia or Cuba (oh, how my heart longs to go there), you do the next best thing and you travel there on your senses. The colors, the smells, the flavors...you make all of these come straight to you and land right on that plate that you're setting on the small table by the kitchen window. And just like that, although it may be snowing outside that window, it's suddenly hot and sunny where you are. That's what happens when you cook.
Just like the flavors in this dish. The prunes and honey, like the sweet scent of honeysuckle on a hot desert night, bring a lightness to the depth of the spices. The chilies offer a touch of heat, but only every now and then, when your lips occasionally brush their skin. The beets and carrots throw in a satisfying earthiness, just enough to bring you back down from your reverie; or maybe, on the contrary, to plant your feet firmly on that desert sand.
Either way, wherever the spices may lead you, it's a trip worth taking.
Roasted carrots and beets, adapted from The Food of Morocco
1/4 cup olive oil
2 large onions, each cut into 6
6 cloves garlic, unpeeled and crushed
2 beets, peeled and chopped into bite-size pieces
1 lb carrots, peeled and sliced into bite-size pieces
1.5 teaspoons ras el hanout (recipe follows)
2 red or green chilies, seeded and finely diced
1.5 cups vegetable stock
1 cup pitted prunes
1 tablespoon honey
Preheat oven to 400ºF.
Put the onions, garlic, and beets in a large baking dish and toss with the olive oil. Bake for 15 minutes. Add the carrots, ras el hanout, and chilies. Season and toss well. Bake for another 30 minutes. Stir in the vegetable stock, prunes and honey and return to the oven for another 30 minutes.
Delicious (and beautiful!) served with a side of sautéed greens.
Ras El Hanout
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons ground allspice
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground turmeric
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
2 teaspoons ground cardamom
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3 teaspoons ground coriander
2 nutmegs, freshly grated (or 6 teaspoons ground nutmeg)
Mix all spices in a jar. Seal and store in a cool dark place.
Makes 60g/2 1/4 oz.