I'm still getting to know my readership, but I'm willing to bet that 50% of you have your finger poised on the "back" button because you think this is not something you'd make. You think this is too pretty and also maybe too healthy. Not that there's anything wrong with healthy food, you say to me but mostly to yourself, it's just, this looks like very hip healthy food and I am not hip enough for this very hip food.
Know who else is not hip? My two-and-a-half-year-old. Know what he likes? Crunchy stuff. (Or yogurt or applesauce but that's another post.) Know what I want him to eat? Healthy-ish stuff that tastes good that he will put in his mouth without my having to cajole him. Know what that means? THIS.
Really, this little number is sort of about makeovers. Carrots so often play a mere supporting role: default hummus dipper; chicken or vegetable stock base; member of the Orange Stuff club to be blitzed into a soup; and, most depressingly, obligatory visual and textural interest in a green salad that is itself an afterthought. This isn't necessarily a terrible thing for carrots: they're super familiar, not threatening, not challenging. And always in the vegetable drawer, at least at our house. Same goes for chickpeas: hummus again, of course; soup booster; maybe protein in a cold grain and vegetable salad. Always in the pantry, a steadfast utility player.
But what if you just sort of clean up those gnarly utility carrots so that they're smooth and bright and ready for something like a spotlight? And what if you toss those with some canned and drained chickpeas and not much beyond salt and pepper and a glug of olive oil? So far this whole endeavor has maybe cost pennies per serving and you could very easily stop right here. Because the carrots get roasty and sweet inside and charred outside, their skinnier bits crisp and caramelized. And the chickpeas transform, wouldn't you know it, into basically like a Corn Nut situation: crunchy, salty, miles away from the humble bean you started with.
But let's say you're having people over. Or you're one of these people who is hip enough for this hip, pretty wellness food. Or your kid really, really loves crunchy things. What can you do?
You can accessorize with more crunchy stuff: maybe the tail end of a jar of nuts in the pantry, toasted in the oven alongside the carrots and chickpeas in their final few moments, maybe a scattering of those seeds I told you about a few weeks back, maybe both. You can also hit it with a final flourish of acid: a hearty squeeze of lemon juice, a tiny bit of balsamic vinegar, or, my new favorite, saba, a cousin to balsamic but lighter, sweeter, and not quite as sharp.
This whole thing is more a blueprint, a rubric than it is a recipe - roasted stuff with a crunchy element and a sweet-ish acid closer - but the result tastes anything but formulaic. Impress your friends with it. Impress your kids. Or don't worry about impressing anyone and just give them something very delicious that happens to be good for them.
- If you can find those cute bunched baby carrots (not the lathed-to-death "baby carrots" but just slightly shorter, thinner versions of grownup carrots) with the tops still attached, use them! Their skins are thin enough that they don't need peeling, and the stem is edible - believe it! - so you can just trim off the tops but not worry about anything more surgical than that. The carrots you see here are a pinky-red variety I scored from the grocery store.
- ny nut will do for this. In fact, when making it recently I thought I had sliced almonds and planned to use them, when in fact someone (Jack, it was Jack) had found and eaten the small jar in the pantry. I subbed in chopped pecans and I think the result was just as good. You can use walnuts for this, pine nuts, roughly chopped or sliced almonds, and pistachios would be super dreamy.
- use my house seed mix that I've detailed here. If you haven't made it yet, this is a great excuse to try it out. If you have your own go-to, go ahead and use it here! As I said, this is not so much a recipe as a loose outline. Even plain sesame seeds would be great.
Roasted Carrots & Chickpeas with Nuts, Seeds, and Saba
- 8 medium carrots, any color, trimmed and peeled (see note above)
- 1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- 1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for finishing
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup nuts, any variety, chopped or sliced if desired
- 2 tablespoons seed mix, mine or yours!
- 2 tablespoons saba, balsamic vinegar, or lemon juice
Heat oven to 425F.
Cut the carrots lengthwise into halves or quarters, depending on their size, and add them to a large mixing bowl. Add the chickpeas to the bowl, then toss everything with the olive oil, plus plenty of salt and pepper. Spread the mixture evenly across a sheet pan. (If I can, I like to use a full sheet that takes up the entirety of an oven rack for maximum char.)
Roast the carrots and chickpeas for 25 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven, toss carrots and chickpeas to redistribute, and add the nuts on top to toast briefly. Put the pan back in the oven for another 5 minutes.
Remove the pan and arrange the carrots, chickpeas, and nuts on a plate or platter. Scatter the nuts on top, then drizzle with saba/balsamic/lemon juice, a final drizzle of olive oil, and a bit more salt and pepper.
- baked goods
- beans + legumes
- dinner party
- gluten free
- make ahead
- pregnant food
- roasted stuff
- special occasions
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