You may remember the mention I made in my post Then and Now: My Art Opening Night of the raw carrots and apple slices I had asked for as part of the food to nosh on while mingling and looking at the art. After the reception was over and we were packing everything up, Sandi asked me if I’d like to take what apples and carrots were left home with me. Of course I said yes.
The carrots were the “baby” ones–organic, but peeled and shaved down to a munchie size, with no skin. Honestly, this isn’t my favorite way to eat raw carrots. I’m such a vegetable nerd that pretty much every day I do a good imitation of Bugs Bunny: I love to just take a whole carrot out of the frig and bite into its unpeeled whole goodness. I get the earthy taste of the vitamins in the skin, and I guess that also means I’m not slicing it in a way to lessen the nutrients. (I’m not cooking it either, which in some circles is the only way to enhance some of the carrot’s nutrients, but I’m getting a good amount of vitamin C, and what I call a cheerful shot in the arm on a gloomy winter day. And I get to crunch, which I love to do.) In fact I love to eat carrots this way so much that I regularly buy the 5 lb bags of organic ones meant for juicing, only I just chomp on them one at a time. Sometimes I eat 3 or 4 a day, but almost always I have at least one.
All this to say that I wasn’t particularly thrilled to eat these carrots raw day after day. So I decided to come up with something easy that would combine both the carrots and the apples, before I ate all the apples, and didn’t know what to do with the carrots.
Since the apples were already sliced and I had sprinkled a little lemon juice into the bag they were in, they were basically ready for anything I wanted to do with them. Being the lazy cook I am these days who would rather draw or paint than make a complicated recipe, I hoped the shaved little mini carrots would not need to be made smaller or thinner. But just for good measure, I sliced the larger ones in half, so they might have a chance of catching up in cooking time with the apples.
This dish is more of an opportunity than a recipe. But it was so sweet and good and unusual that I’ll do my best to write it up in recipe form so you can try it out if you like. It reminds me of a name one of my friends gave herself years ago as we were all sitting around eating vegetarian food at a women’s gathering potluck. Some were saying whether they were vegetarian all the time, or if they ate meat sometimes. She piped up brightly with the exclamation that she was an “opportunivore” and we all laughed.
It’s hard to be an “opportunivore” when you can’t have meat, dairy, added oil, soy, gluten, or any number of things (like processed sugar) that don’t work for your particular digestive system, or are off the plate for ethical reasons. So I was especially pleased when I saw this “opportunity” and that it was easy and fun. And just to be sure, I plied my neighbor Ashley with some before posting it here. She gave it the thumbs up and said I should post it. How can I refuse a face as sweet as this one?
Apple Carrot Amaranth Bake
I can’t decide if this bake should be a dessert or just an unusual part of dinner or lunch. It’s “sweet” because of the ingredients in it, but not because there’s any added sugar. The earthiness of the carrots, spices and a little bit of red onion give it a savory dimension as well. And it’s great with a dab of stone ground mustard on top. So you decide: leave out the onion, tumeric, and the dab of mustard and you’ve (almost) got a dessert. But I think these unusual additions make this a delicious something a little out of the ordinary.
(about 3 cups total of carrots and apples)
1 tbs chopped sweet red onion
1 cup of cooked amaranth
2 walnuts, chopped
Place the sliced apples and carrot in a quart baking dish and splash with a tablespoon or so of lemon juice. Toss until all are coated and add more if needed (you really can’t have too much). Sprinkle generously with cinnamon and ginger and add about a 1/4 teaspoon of tumeric, or more to taste.
Chop a medjool date into small pieces and mix it into the amaranth with lots of ground cinnamon, ginger and about 1/4 tsp of tumeric and an 1/8 teaspoon of cumin, and the chopped walnut. Spread the mixture over the spiced apples, carrots and onion.
Bake at 350 uncovered for about 35 minutes. Cover and bake another 5-15 minutes to help soften up the carrots a bit more.
Notes: if you slice or julienne regular carrots they may not take as long to cook as the whole or almost whole “baby” ones. I kind of liked them just a little crunchy.
How I cooked the amaranth: I heated a small pot for about 30 seconds over medium heat, then put in half cup of amaranth and toasted it every so lightly for about another 30 seconds. Then I added 2 parts water, so one cup. Often recipes say to use 3 parts water to one part amaranth, but I wanted it to be a bit crunchy in the bake so I reduced the water. Either way will work for you though.
Even after all this, I still had some of those baby carrots left over. In my next post I’ll share a “vegan version” of what I did with them.
And here’s just one more shot of the whole wall at the art opening, which I forgot to put into the last post: