I was driving along South Grand with my grandson, Andrew, last week. We had just demolished a number of Vietnamese spring rolls and a bowl of pho—the perfect repast for a bone chilling day. I spotted Jay’s International market up ahead.
“I’m making a Moroccan-style carrot dish,” I said, “and I need some harissa.” When he looked stunned, I explained that harissa is a North African chili paste and the final ingredient I needed to try the new recipe.
We pulled into the adjoining park lot—always a convenience when shopping or eating on Grand Avenue—and stepped into the world marketplace. Jay’s is definitely a cultural excursion, a culinary showcase of exotic smells, sounds and flavors much like I remember from the streets of Singapore. When I go to Jay’s, I’m invariable looking for an item that requires several employees and sometime a customer or two, to come to my aid. But that’s part of the adventure.
This time, we were quickly pointed to the harissa aisle. No problem. I pushed my luck and inquired about crème fraîche, only to learn after much searching, that they didn’t carry it. That required a Schnucks stop. For future reference, my fellow foodies, Schnucks keeps crème fraîche at the cheese carousel.
Back at my condo with all the ingredients in hand and the snow falling, I made Chef Kenji’s roasted carrot recipe.
I don’t often say this. But stop everything you’re doing and make this dish. If you don’t have the harissa, use a jolt of Siracha, or no hot stuff at all.
If you use the harissa bear in mind, that it’s made of hot, red peppers (as well as garlic, coriander, cumin and salt), so you might want to go easy the first time you make the recipe. I like medium hot and it was just right for me.
The finished dish was so pretty and tasty, I felt like I needed to invite neighbors in to share it with me. But far too many of my friends have sought a warm haven for the winter. So I photographed the dish as a reminder to make it for guests the next time I’m at the farm.
The finished carrots reminded me a lot of sweet potatoe fries. Caramelizing the carrots in the oven for 40 minutes makes them a bit sweet. I’m thinking this is a vegetable you could sell to kids as an alternative to French fries. Here’s the recipe.
Kenji’s Roasted Carrots
The full recipe for Roasted Carrots with Harissa and Crème Fraiche.