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
Test Kitchen Notes
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&M —The Editors
1 cup of harissa for many crostini
dried Anaheim or California chilies, stemmed, seeded
dried Chile de Arbol chilies (each about two inches in length), stemmed, seeded
2 1/2 cups
carrots, peeled and sliced 1/2-inch thick, on the bias (I used 5 medium carrots)
extra virgin olive oil, divided, plus more if necessary
black caraway seeds
medium garlic clove, rough chopped (about 1 teaspoons)
lemon juice, plus more to taste if necessary
baguette, sliced 1/4-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, per crostini)
In This Recipe
Preheat oven to 400° F.
Use kitchen shears to cut dried chilies into 1/2-inch wide pieces. Place chile pieces in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Let chiles stand for 30 minutes.
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.
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.
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.
Spread desired amount of roasted carrot harissa on each crostini, top with a touch of crème fraiche (about 1/2 to 1 teaspoon per slice) and carrot leaves. Serve and enjoy!
My most vivid childhood memories have to do with family and food. As a kid, I had the good fortune of having a mom who always encouraged trying new things, and two grandmothers who invited me into their kitchens at a young age. I enjoy cooking for the joy it brings me - sharing food with loved ones - and as a stress release. I turn to it equally during good times and bad. Now that I have two young children, I try to be conscientious about what we cook and eat. Right about the time I joined food52, I planted my first raised bed garden and joined a CSA; between the two I try to cook as sustainably and organically as I can. Although I'm usually cooking alone, my children are my favorite kitchen companions and I love cooking with them. I hope when they are grown they will look back fondly at our time spent in the kitchen, as they teach their loved ones about food-love.
Best of all, after years on the mainland for college and graduate school, I get to eat and cook and raise my children in my hometown of Honolulu, HI. When I'm not cooking, I am helping others grow their own organic food or teaching schoolchildren about art.