As the first signs of spring start to appear, with lighter mornings and warmer temperatures, Alexandra Dudley shares how to make the most of the last of winter’s root vegetables.
Roasted rainbow carrots on pureed lemony butterbeans with pistachio pesto
I love the colours of rainbow carrots. It somehow seems to make carrots seem far more delicious, with the flavour in rainbow or heritage carrots often richer, more intense and almost sweeter. In pairing them with a bright green zippy pistachio pesto and lemony butterbean puree, the dish becomes a real contender as a centre-stage main – as well as adding a dose of plant-based protein too. Enjoy this with the carrots warm from the oven, or if you are serving at a dinner party and want to get ahead, it is equally as delicious enjoyed at room termperature.
800g rainbow carrots
240g drained butter beans (usually 400g tin)
Pinch of salt
2 tbsp oil
2 small garlic cloves, finely chopped
100g shelled pistachios
Large bunch of basil
Preheat your oven to 200°C.
Wash and slice your carrots in half length ways (quartering any very large ones). Roast for 30-40 minutes until cooked through and slightly browned.
Whilst your carrots are cooking, heat a tablespoon of olive oil gently in a pan and add half of the chopped garlic. Cook until softened and fragrant but not browned. Switch off the heat and allow to cool lightly.
Open your butterbeans and before draining them, take one tablespoon of the liquid and place in a food processor. Drain the beans and add to the food processor, along with the fried garlic and any residual oil. Add in the zest of the lemon and just half of its juice, along with two further tbsp of olive oil and a good pinch of salt. Blitz until a smooth puree.
Rinse and dry your food processor and then add the pistachios, remaining lemon juice and garlic, basil and a pinch of salt. Pulse until well broken down. Pour the blitzed pistachio mix into a small bowl and gently add a stream of olive oil until you have reached desired consistency. I like a chunky pesto.
To serve, spoon the butterbean puree onto a serving dish, arrange the carrots over and spoon over the pesto.
Beetroot, lentil, tarragon and cashew salad
Beets can be a divisive subject at the dinner table. They have a somewhat marmite charm to them; some love them, some loathe them. I have catered for both camps and even with the most perturbed of beetroot eaters have managed to turn them round to enjoying them with this salad. Roasting beets brings out a natural sweetness in them, reducing the earthiness whilst still mainting their flavour. I love the combination of creamy cashews and fragrant tarragon with the beetroot, but feel free to use another favourite herb. You can also switch up the green or puy lentils for this but I’d advise against red lentils as you want them to still have a bite to them. Enjoy this warm or cold and keep any leftovers for a packed lunch.
1kg beetroot (I like a mix of red and candy or yellow)
150g puy or green lentils (dry)
Handful tarragon leaves
For the dressing
1 tsp whole coriander seed
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp honey
Preheat your oven to 200°C.
Wash any remaining dirt from your beetroot and pat dry.
Place a large sheet of tin foil on a baking tray (large enough to fold over and cover itself). Place the beetroot onto it and wrap the foil over tightly pinching the edges to reduce air escaping. Roast the beetroot for 1.5-2 hours until the beetroot can be pierced easily with a knife and the skins have slightly shriveled.
Place the cashews on a dry baking tray and in the oven with the beetroot for 7 minutes, tossing half way through and keeping an eye on them to ensure they don’t burn/ Allow them to cool before roughly chopping.
Once cool enough to touch, peel the beetroot and allow them to cool completely before chopping into quarters.
Cook the lentils according to pack instructions and wash your spinach.
Place the coriander seeds in a clean and dry frying pan over a gentle heat and cook for about 5 minute until they begin to release an aroma. Transfer to a pestle and mortar and crush until you have a sandy-like texture. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and add the remaining dressing ingredients. Whisk together with a fork.
Add the lentils, chopped beetroot, chopped cashews, spinach and tarragon. Toss everything together with your hands and transfer to a serving dish.