Roasted Carrot Harissa and Crème Fraiche Crostini

By • February 28, 2011 86 Comments

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Author Notes: This was inspired by the recent post “How Food52 Does Oscars;” I have loved film, going to the movies, being swept away by a beautiful story, a gritty drama, or a suspenseful thriller for almost as long as I have loved food. The natural sweetness of roasted carrots contrasts the spice and heat of this versatile condiment. Topped with a touch of tangy crème fraiche and served on a crunchy garlic and olive oil kissed crostini, this is my nod to harissa, and to the Best Picture of 1997, The English Patient (one of my favorites). The roasted carrot harissa would also be delicious with grilled meats, or eggs. Note: Since the heat of individual chiles vary, for a milder carrot harissa, use only one Chile de Arbol, or omit entirely. gingerroot

Food52 Review: Warm, savory spices like cumin and coriander always bring out the best in sweet, roasted roots and gingerroot's earthy carrot harissa is no exception. Nearly everything in this dish can be tweaked to your taste: lemon juice, garlic, salt, and perhaps most importantly the heat from the dried chiles. We love the whisper of garlic swiped over the toasts, and the smart suggestion to use the carrot greens as a garnish. - A&MThe Editors

Makes about 1 cup of harissa for many crostini

  • 3 dried Anaheim or California chilies, stemmed, seeded
  • 3 dried Chile de Arbol chilies (each about two inches in length), stemmed, seeded
  • 2 1/2 cups cups carrots, peeled and sliced ½-inch thick, on the bias (I used 5 medium carrots)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • a few pinches of sea salt
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided, plus more if necessary
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon black caraway seeds
  • 1 medium garlic clove, rough chopped (about 1 teaspoons)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice, plus more to taste if necessary
  • 1 Baguette, sliced ¼ inch thick on the bias
  • Garlic clove, cut in half (plus more if necessary)
  • Olive oil, for brushing on baguette slices
  • Italian parsley, Cilantro or Carrot leaves (tops), torn into small pieces, for garnish
  • Crème Fraiche (between 1/2 -1 teaspoon per crostini)
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Use kitchen shears to cut dried chilies into ½ inch wide pieces. Place chile pieces in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Let chiles stand for 30 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, place carrot slices on a large rimmed baking sheet. Season with cumin, a pinch or two of sea salt and drizzle 2 tablespoons of olive oil over carrots. Toss to coat evenly. Set your timer for 15 minutes and put carrots in oven to roast, shaking pan once halfway through. When there are four minutes of cooking time left, add coriander seeds and black caraway to carrot mixture, using a wooden spoon to combine. When your timer goes off, remove pan from oven and set aside to cool.
  4. Drain water from chilies and place in the bowl of a food processor. Add spiced roasted carrots, making sure to scrape all of the oil from the pan in as well. Add chopped garlic clove and process for 20 seconds before scraping down mixture with a spatula and pulsing again. At this point, scrape, add lemon juice and 1 tablespoon of olive oil and process until you have a thick paste (You want this to be thick so that it will stand its own on the crostini without making it soggy). Taste for salt and acid, adding more to taste if necessary. Transfer harissa to a container with an airtight lid, cover top surface with a drizzle of olive oil and let mixture sit at least one hour and up to 24 (in refrigerator) before using.
  5. When ready to make and serve crostini, remove harissa and crème fraiche from refrigerator to come to room temperature. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Arrange baguette pieces on a large rimmed baking sheet. Rub raw garlic halves on tops of baguette slices. Using a pastry brush, paint each piece of bread with olive oil. Toast bread until golden, about 5-7 minutes, depending on your oven. Remove pan from oven and allow crostini to cool slightly.
  6. Spread desired amount of roasted carrot harissa on each crostini, top with a touch of crème fraiche (about ½-1 teaspoon per slice) and carrot leaves. Serve and enjoy!

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