Do you ever wonder how a recipe comes into being? The normal way is probably quite systematic. My way? Well, let's just say, probably not so normal and definitely not systematic. My husband often says I have a crazy mind when it comes to culinary things. But I say, he has a crazy mind when it comes to certain things too. Like music; he's continually creating music in his head (that's so foreign to me) and photography, he constantly comes up with innovative new techniques, styles and angles to shoot and capture images of the food I make. He's also quite crazy-minded in the garden; he's dreaming of what he'll plant and grow in the summer long before the last cold wind blows. He has a super green thumb (mine is brown) and comes up with innovative ways to have a gorgeous garden with minimal work. We don't take the time to water any of our outdoor plants anymore because of an ingenious system he dreamed up to keep them perfectly watered while we watch TV and eat bon-bons (haha, wishful thinking!).
But back to the recipe evolution. I get my inspiration in a zillion different ways. Sometimes I wake up in the morning thinking of something new I want to make and can hardly wait to have time in the kitchen. Often I get ideas from other blogs, culinary magazines and of course, these days there's Pinterest. I frequently go into overload perusing through Pinterest and getting all kinds of spin-off ideas for future culinary escapades.
This time my influence came from Bobbly Flay, one of my favorite television chefs. I was paging through my latest issue of Bon Appetit when I saw his Spice-Crusted Carrots with Harissa Yogurt Sauce. I stopped dead in my tracks. They looked amazing! I tore out the page and added it to my ever-growing pile of "recipes to try".
A few days ago I decided to make the delicious looking carrots.. When I read through the recipe, I saw that he cooked the carrots, gave them an ice bath, peeled the skins off, coated them with oil and tossed them in a spice mixture. After all that, they were cooked once again in a sauté pan. Wow, that sounded like a lot of work! I decided to simplify things by combining the veggies with oil and a spice mixture in a zippered bag, then roasting them in a hot oven. Roasting causes the natural sugars in veggies and other foods to caramelize, adding another layer of delicious flavor. Are you noticing that we're starting to veer a bit from the original recipe?
The spice rub came next. Bobby used: sugar, mustard powder, smoked paprika, cumin and coriander. It sounded good, but I thought I'd have a some fun and come up with my own combination. I used brown sugar, coriander, chili powder, cumin, onion powder, sea salt and pepper. It turned out to be a delicious sweet and spicy coating, though quite different from the Bon Appetit recipe.
I had some beautiful asparagus from a recent trip to the market and decided to roast them along with the carrots; but now the time had to be adjusted, as asparagus cooks much quicker than carrots. The orange and green color combination looked so fresh and spring-like to me.
The sauce. The carrots in the original recipe were served with a Harrisa yogurt sauce. That sounded amazing, and I actually happened to have a jar of Harrisa paste in my fridge. The catch was that it isn't readily available, and can sometimes be difficult to obtain. Another digression was in progress .......... hmmmm .......... I had a container of humus in the fridge as well as a big carton of Greek yogurt. I tested a few ratios of hummus to yogurt and came up with a pleasing combination. A splash of lemon juice, pinch of sea salt, grind of black pepper and a drizzle of olive oil finished off the dipping sauce. It paired perfectly with the flavorful roasted veggies.
The finishing touch? Bobby's carrots are quite lovely, adorned with lemon and fresh thyme. Mine? A scatter of golden, toasted pine nuts adding a nice crunch to each bite.
So there you have it! A fun new recipe has evolved ! Better than Bobby's? I hardly think so, but nevertheless delicious. These Brown Sugar & Spice Roasted Veggies would be perfect for a family/friends brunch or dinner. Serve them on a large platter with a bowl of the delicious sauce in the center. I like to scatter a handful of chopped cilantro or flat leaf parsley for a fresh, pretty look.
Thank you, Bobby for the inspiration! I had fun playing with your recipe!
And thank you Scott, for your crazy photography mind. I love the way you capture my food. I can cook, create recipes, style food and I'm quite talented with a dish rag and soap, but photography? Nope, not my forte! I'm so glad we work as a team with our "crazy" skills! I love you so much!
- Ingredients for the sauce:
- ½ cup plain Greek yogurt
- ¼ cup hummus
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice plus more
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- Ingredients for the spice mixture:
- 2 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon coriander
- ½ teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Ingredients for the veggies:
- 10 medium carrots peeled and sliced, lengthwise in half
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 pound asparagus
- 2 tablespoons pine nuts
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- fresh chopped cilantro or parsley for garnish
Preheat oven to 450˚F. Spray a sheet pan generously with cooking spray.
Combine Greek yogurt, hummus, lemon juice and salt in a medium size bowl. Stir or whisk until smooth. Transfer to a serving bowl and drizzle with olive oil. Grind black pepper generously over the top. Refrigerate till ready to serve.
Combine spice mixture ingredients in a small bowl. Stir to combine.
Place 2 tablespoons of oil in a zippered bag. Add carrots to bag with oil. Roll carrots till completely covered with oil. Add all but 2 tablespoons of the spice mixture to bag. Seal bag and shake to coat carrots.
Turn carrots out onto prepared sheet pan, take care to get most of the oil and spice mixture out of the bag. Roast for 15 minutes, turning once after 5 minutes.
While carrots are roasting, place asparagus and pine nuts in the zippered bag with another tablespoon of oil. Roll asparagus mixture in bag to coat with oil then add remaining spice mixture. Seal bag and shake to coat.
After carrots have roasted for 15 minutes, remove from oven and gently stir. Add asparagus and rearrange to form a single layer as much as possible. Return to oven and roast for another 5 minutes or until asparagus is crisp tender. Remove from oven and transfer to a serving tray. Drizzle with any oil/spic mixture that's left on the pan. Scatter with pine nuts and serve hot with Lemon-Garlic Yogurt Sauce.
Garnish with chopped cilantro or parsley, if desired.
Adapted (a lot) from Bon Appetit