Roasted Broccoli with Carrot Sauce

Things have been crazy around here lately. Good crazy – the kind of crazy that involves lots of salsa classes and late-night dancing, pet-sitting my parents’ two big beautiful black dogs that I adore (but that are quite a handful!), learning new things like pole dancing (so fun!) – but crazy nevertheless. All this running around has left me grasping for a way to come up with quick meals, while still maintaining a balanced diet and not skimping on cooking (at least not completely). I’ve had my good ole’ staples when I’m on the run – hummus with veggies, dry roasted almonds, fresh crunchy apples, etc. – but tonight I was craving something more. I wanted colors on my plate. I wanted something new, something that would involve creativity, but that wouldn’t take all night.

So after getting back from my salsa class, I dropped my bags and went straight to the fridge. I spent a couple minutes eyeing the insides and weighing my options. I had a couple heads of broccoli, which I took out. That would take care of my vitamin C. I went back looking for something that would make a pretty contrast to the green of broccoli and found a bag of organic carrots (hello vitamin A!). I found the idea of simply steaming or baking broccoli and carrots boring, but I loved the idea of baking the broccoli and then drizzling a bright orange liquid on top of the crispy green stalks. I’d never made carrot sauce (I’d never even heard of such a thing), but I liked the concept and it couldn’t be that hard, right? Now I was excited!

So I got to work peeling and chopping.

Let me stop for a second here to share how oddly calming I find the simple act of chopping. I don't know if any of you feel the same, but when I am at the counter-top, vegetable in one hand and knife in the other, all of my senses get wound up in the moment, my eyes concentrating on the bright orange of the thin slices, my ears taking in the rhythmic sound of the knife against the cutting board – thud, thud, thud – so soothing…I often find myself slipping into a meditative state. A welcome place at the end of long hectic days...

And then, just like that, I am awakened out of my zone - the olive oil is hot, the onions get thrown in, where's that garlic press? - and I'm off, throwing everything together, listening to the sizzling of the vegetables, inhaling the smells that quickly surround me.

Before I know it, there it is: carrot sauce.

I try it. It's smooth, sweet...but it's missing a little something. I throw in a dash of cayenne. Ah, there we go. Now it's got a kick.

I peek into the oven and steal a stalk of slightly crispy broccoli. It's ready.

And so, after a long day of work and dancing, I finally sit down with a hot steaming bowl of bright fresh colors. I take a bite - garlicky, a little crunchy, and smoothly sweet. Perfect.

Sighing contentedly, I relax into the night.

Roasted Broccoli with Carrot Sauce

Roasted Broccoli

2 heads broccoli
6 cloves garlic, pressed
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon herbes de provence
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 425ºF.

Cut the broccoli into bite size pieces (don't discard the stalk - it's full of extra calcium and iron! Just peel off the tough outer layer and slice the stalk up). In an oven-proof dish, mix the broccoli with the garlic, olive oil, herbs, salt and pepper. Toss everything well, massaging the oil and garlic into the broccoli with your hands. Once everything is mixed, put the dish in the oven. Bake for 20-30 minutes turning every 5-10 minutes. If the broccoli is getting too crispy toward the end, turn the oven temperature down a bit.

Carrot Sauce

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, diced
8 cloves garlic, pressed
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
10 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
3.5 cups water
1.5 cubes vegetable bouillon
dash of cayenne pepper (optional)

Sauté onions and garlic in olive oil until onions are translucent. Add cumin and coriander and sauté one more minute. Add carrots and cook for one minute stirring frequently to mix everything up. Add water and bring to boil. Once water is boiling, turn down to a simmer and add vegetable bouillon. Stir well to dissolve the bouillon. Cook everything on low for about 20 minutes, or until carrots are very tender. Once carrots are cooked, blend in batches and return to pot. Reheat and add cayenne pepper to taste.

Spoon carrot sauce over roasted broccoli and enjoy!!

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