The sky was dancing with the pastel hues of the morning, and the frost covered grass dried under the sun’s warm touch. Despite the early hour, men wearing plaid shirts unloaded their trucks. The gentle morning light bounced off their tanned skin, glistening with sweat. A magpie sang welcoming the day, but it was no ordinary day. It was market day. My favourite time of the week.
Something is soothing about walking past the stalls that waft the scent of ripe fruit, freshly baked bread, and home preserved jam. The aroma of coffee roasting and the melody played by a busker and their acoustic guitar. The smells, local produce, and flavours inspire me to purchase everything and to create some unknown delicious treat. It didn’t however, always used to be this way.
There was a time where I didn’t eat, stricken with fear from the consequences. I associated food with crippling pain and at my darkest point, incontinence. It didn’t matter if I consumed gluten, soy, onions or lactose. The symptoms were sporadic, and numerous medical tests all returned as “inconclusive”. Although we never identified its cause, I have found a way to manage the symptoms. As challenging as this experience has been and as strange as it may seem to others, I am grateful to have experienced this journey.
This venture has allowed me to improve my relationship with food. It has allowed me to explore different flavours, diets, tastes and textures. I studied the industrialisation of food and the impact on not just the environment, but also our bodies. I learnt about Genetically Modified Food, and I studied about nutrition. It was then that I decided to return to basics and eat whole, nutritious food free from unknown additives or preservatives.
These choices helped me, and slowly I began to heal.
Exploring food also provided me with a creative outlook that I now savour. Cooking, after all, is not only the chemistry between temperatures and ingredients. People who have experienced fine-dinning would agree, it is also an art incorporating various sensations; taste, texture, smell.
This Middle Eastern inspired recipe is a result of this exploration. Caramelised carrot salad served with toasted millet, creamy feta, almonds and tart pomegranate seeds. It’s become a staple in our kitchen, and I hope you enjoy it as much as we do! 🙂
- 4 chilli, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon of paprika
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- pinch of salt & pepper
- 500g of dutch carrots, washed, tops removed
- 1 cup millet.
- 2 cups vegetable stock,
- 120g spinach, rinsed
- 3 tablespoons of raisins
- 1/2 red onion, finely sliced
- 1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley finely chopped
- 1/2 bunch of coriander, leaves removed.
- Feta, crumbled (optional)
- 1/2 cup almonds, toasted
- Pomegranate, seeds removed
- Lemon, squeezed by hand
- Preheat the oven to 200 degrees celsius. (400 degrees, fahrenheit).
- Mix the chilli, red wine vinegar, minced garlic, cumin, paprika, olive oil and the salt and pepper together in a small bowl.
- Place the carrots in a cast-iron pot and pour 3/4 of the vinegar mixture over the carrots. Place the carrots into the oven for 40 minutes or until the skin’s are brown and caramelised, flipping the carrots half-way through. Once the carrots are well caramelised, allow to cool for 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, preheat a medium-sized saucepan over a medium-to-high heat. When the saucepan is warm, add the millet stirring occasionally for 2 - 5 minutes with a wooden spoon. The millet should make some popping noises and start to brown. Once toasted, add the vegetable stock and bring to the boil (do not stir the millet as this can make it ‘mushy’). Cover the millet, reducing to a low heat and cook for 15 - 20 minutes, or until the stock has been absorbed. Remove from the heat and fluff the grains with a fork.
- Once the millet has been cooked, stir in the raisins and chopped parsley.
- In four bowls, divide the millet, roasted carrots, spinach, red onion, coriander leaves, and feta. Top with toasted almonds and pomegranate seeds. Drizzle over the remaining vinegar mixture and a squeeze of lemon. Bon Appétite! 🙂
If you would be interested in my recommendations for books and documentaries on food & nutrition,
let me know in the comments below! 🙂