Roasted Carrots with Cumin, Coriander and Fried Shallots

Roasted carrots with cumin, coriander, and fried shallots

I was heading to a potluck church friendsgiving. I had signed up to bring a fruit or vegetable side. And I promised myself it would be a storebought dish. I’d quickly stop and grab something at Fresh Market before squeezing in a run before the dinner. Instead I started thinking Fall and carrots and cumin and suddenly I was in the produce section instead of the prepared food section. The run didn’t happen but the carrots sure turned out tasty!!

4 bunches carrots

1 t cumin seed

2 t coriander seed

1 large shallot, sliced

4 T butter

Preheat oven to 500° with rimmed baking sheets on the bottom rack.
Scrub carrots and remove tops if present. Heat a small heavy skillet. Add the cumin and coriander to the hot skillet. Toast until fragrant, stirring occasionally and watching closely not to burn. Remove from skillet and grind. Set aside.
Melt the butter. Stir in ground spices and heat through.
Arrange carrots in a single layer on the preheated baking sheets. Brush with the spiced butter. Roast for 12-18 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat a half inch of neutral oil in a small pan til sizzling. Fry the shallot slices until golden. Drain on a paper towel. Sprinkle over the carrots just before serving.

potluck grain salad

potluck grain salad ingredientsThis is a great side dish for potlucks when you want to offer a healthier option than the usual chips and dip. Without the optional goat cheese it even qualifies as vegan (though if your friends are as carnivorous as mine I wouldn’t recommend announcing that as you arrive at the potluck). It holds up really well in the fridge for leftovers the following day or two, which helps make up for the fact that with all the cooking and cooling it does require plenty of plan-ahead time and multiple pots and pans.

If you want to serve this as a one-dish meal add diced avocado (sticking with the plant-centric theme) or diced chicken. But if you’re expecting leftovers, serve the avocado on the side rather than mixing it in.

Potluck grain salad |
Potluck grain salad

A word about salads like this that count on layers of flavor. It can be tempting to count on the combination of ingredients and dressing to make the dish work, while being a little sloppy with the preparation of each element. But this dish will really sing only if each part of it can stand on its own. Remember to include salt in the cooking – bland lentils or quinoa will be the fastest way to turn all your work into a disappointment.

Potluck Grain Salad

1/2 cup quinoa, cooked and cooled

1/2 cup millet, cooked and cooled

1/3 cup french green lentils, cooked and cooled

1/2 cup wild rice, cooked and cooled

1 sweet potato, diced

olive oil


1/2 bunch flat leaf parsley, chopped

1/2 bunch scallions, chopped

1 handful nuts – pine nuts or almonds

fruity clear vinaigrette**

crumbled goat cheese (optional)

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Cook the quinoa, millet, lentils and wild rice according to package instructions. Be sure to cook with a pinch of salt. Drain and cool.*

Meanwhile, peel and dice the sweet potato. Toss with a little olive oil and a pinch of salt. Spread on baking sheet and roast until tender. Cool.

Spread the nuts in a skillet and place in oven. Toast until golden. Cool.

Chop the scallions, including white and green parts. Chop the parsley.

Combine the quinoa, millet, lentils, wild rice, sweet potato, nuts, scallions and parsley. Add dressing, salt and pepper to taste to taste. Top with goat cheese if using.

*If you are pressed for time, spread on a baking sheet and place in the fridge for quicker cooling.

**I like to dress salads like this with a vinaigrette made with white balsamic. The color of regular dark balsamic will detract from the looks of this dish.

Hummus joy

hummus ingredientsWhen it comes to either/or questions I try to remember first to question the question. Why should I choose one or the other? Form or function? Yes please. Republican or Democrat? No thank you. Healthy or tasty? Of course.

Hummus is the proof you don’t have to choose. Tasty enough to make an afternoon break with vegetables something to look forward to and packed with protein and fiber, hummus fills both sides of the equation with flair. Flexible enough to dress up with any number of spices or flavors, it’s also incredibly cheap to make and freezes so well that the slight inconvenience of planning ahead to soak the beans is more than made up in the ease of making and storing a large batch. Though if you are in a hurry, hummus made with canned beans still out-performs the store-bought stuff any day.

hummus |
hummus |

Hummus to me is bound up with a memory of making batch after batch in a sunny kitchen with only a mini food processor while my roommates and friends sat around the table eating it with lime chips and laughing. At the time I improvised my hummus recipe but for some reason was intimidated to use anything other than canned beans. Since then I have been converted to using dried beans and experimented with different techniques and flavors, throwing in dill or paprika, using freshly toasted and ground cumin, sometimes roasting my garlic. I even tried peeling the chickpeas (Yes, peeling the chickpeas gave me a lovely creamy hummus. No, it was absolutely not worth the hassle). There is always homemade hummus in the freezer.

When my friends ask for my hummus recipe I want to tell them to just look at the ingredients list and pull out their food processor – it’s that easy to figure out. But if you would like to have more specific guidance, check out these two recipes. You can’t go wrong.

Try this hummus

And then try this hummus



Sweet Potato with Sage and Pancetta

sweet potato ingredients

(I may have to add a new tagline to my blog – this was not the recipe I intended to make)

This week’s menu plan revolved around a couple of sweet potatoes I picked up a little while ago that I need to eat. Sadly, by Monday evening the plan was already knocked off schedule and my slow cooked sweet potato and black bean burritos did not happen. I came to Tuesday evening with a need for a quick finish sweet potato recipe. Clearly an off-plan improvisation was needed.

sweet potato with sage and pancetta |

I remembered the scant handful of sage picked from a friend’s neighbor’s sharing garden (she plants herbs along the sidewalk and encourages those passing by to help themselves.) It’s been sitting on my counter and drying nicely and is very aromatic. And a couple of pieces of pancetta were left in my fridge. What all that added up to was a quick little sweet potato dish that cooked nicely while my chicken was grilling.

sweet potato with sage and pancetta |

Sweet Potato with Sage and Pancetta

Serves 1

Though my meals are usually made for one, I rarely cook without creating intentional leftovers. This was an exception – a single serving dish. Mostly because though I think the julienne peeler is more convenient than julienne with a knife (at least at this whisper thin size) I still don’t enjoy using it. So I prepped enough sweet potato for one and no more. You can easily scale this up for a couple or family size.

1 slice pancetta, diced
A few leaves of fresh or dried sage, to taste
1 quarter small sweet potato
1 Tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Over medium heat, cook the pancetta til it begins to become translucent. Add sage and stir. Continue cooking until the sage is aromatic. Add olive oil and sweet potato. Cook until the sweet potato is tender.

Finish with salt and pepper to taste.

Beans with Paprika and Parmesan

Ingredients for beans with paprika & parmesan rind | asavoryplate.comThis was supposed to be soup. This was supposed to be soup because it’s November and there is a chill in the air and I love soup and so of course I was going to come home from church and make a big pot of something to simmer. Because a big pot of something simmering on a chilly Sunday afternoon is just about the best thing in the world.

Also, I just bought some new smoked paprika. And this soup was supposed to be all about an excuse to use the paprika. A smoky paprika-flavored soup simmering for an hour or two on my stove to celebrate (yes, celebrate!) the cold weather. Hibernation food.

Then I got to the moment when I needed to add my chicken stock and the intense scent of bacon and onions and paprika hit my nose and cried out to remain undiluted and I realized I was using canned beans so there is no need to simmer for hours. So I thought – stewed beans!

beans with paprika and parmesan |

If you’d prefer soup, increase the chicken stock by a cup. Toss in some chopped greens for a more nutritionally complete one pot meal.

Beans with Paprika & Parmesan

Serves: 3 or 4

1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1 1/2 slices bacon
1 Onion
2 Tablespoons Smoked Paprika
2 Carrots
1 15 1/2 ounce can of Navy Beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup Chicken Stock
piece of Parmesan Rind*
Salt and Pepper to taste

In a heavy saucepan, heat the olive oil. Meanwhile, dice the bacon and onion. Sauté the bacon until the fat starts to render. Add the onion. Dice your carrots.

When the onions are translucent and beginning to brown, add the paprika. Stir and heat through – about a minute. Add the diced carrots, beans, chicken stock and parmesan rind. Simmer until the carrots are tender, adding liquid if needed.

Taste and add salt and pepper if needed. Be careful of over salting. Between the bacon and the parmesan and the canned beans, you may already have plenty of saltiness.

Remove the parmesan rind. Serve.

*if you don’t have a parmesan rind, simply throw in a piece of parmesan or even some of the grated stuff