I've included every cookbook I own in this round of random cooking, including ones that I consider beyond my skills--the French Laundry Cookbook and Mastering the Art of French Cooking, to name two--and those I keep around for sentimental reasons but rarely cook from because they're just not how a 21st century foodie cooks. Think fundraiser cookbooks with lots of casseroles heavy on the cream of mushroom soup. That's 64 cookbooks. I just can't seem to stop collecting more of the things.
For this first week, I drew one of my newest volumes: Diane Morgan's Roots.
(I need to get better about taking pictures of what I cook, but for this week I'll make do with the book cover.)
It's an encyclopedic cookbook of edible roots, from the common (carrots, potatoes, turnips, etc.) to the exotic (salsify, burdock, crosne, etc.). It's fascinating to page through just for the sheer variety of root vegetables and ways to cook them.
But because I'm just easing back into cooking a lot and trying new recipes again, I didn't go looking for crosnes or decide it was finally time to embrace the Jerusalem artichoke. No, I picked a nice, straightforward carrot recipe, and one that's unusual for this cookbook in using some shortcut ingredients:
Moroccan Carrot and Chickpea Salad with Dried Plums and Toasted Cumin Vinaigrette
- 1 T cumin seeds
- 1/3 c. extra virgin olive oil
- 2 T fresh lemon juice
- 1 T honey
- 3/4 tsp kosher salt
- 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1 10-oz package shredded carrots
- 1 15-oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 2/3 c. dried plums (prunes), chopped into chickpea-sized pieces
- 1/2 c. coarsely chopped fresh mint
1. To make the dressing, first toast and grind the cumin seeds. Place a small, heavy frying pan, preferably cast iron, over high heat, add the cumin seeds, and toast, stirring constantly, until fragrant and lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a plate to cool. Using a spice grinder or a mortar and pestle, grind the seeds to a powder.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, lemon juice, honey, ground cumin, salt, and cayenne pepper. Season with black pepper.
3. In a medium bowl, combine the carrots, chickpeas, dried plums, and mint. Add the dressing and toss gently to coat evenly. Serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. (The salad can be made up to 8 hours in advance. Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before serving.)
I recommend this one highly. It's quick, the only remotely challenging technique is toasting and grinding the cumin, and it's colorful with lovely bright flavors to match.