Cumin Carrot Tapas
This recipe is found in my book: Chef Sharing the Table, A Northwest Chef Instructor’s Quest to Recreate Memorable Meals. I have decided, after receiving great praise upon serving to numerous guests, to publish it here on my blog. Here is the story behind the creation of this dish:
On a guided tour of Jerez, Spain we had the great pleasure of seeing how Sherry is classically made. After the winery tour, we were presented with six glasses of different Sherries and then told that we had fifteen minutes until the tour bus would leave for our lunch destination. We rapidly downed those six glasses, rushed to the estate store to purchase a couple of bottles and barely made the bus. By the time we reached our lunch restaurant, we were a bit tipsy and famished. Luckily, they had these splendid carrot tapas awaiting us. When we gobbled them down, they brought more, to our great pleasure as we watched flamenco dancers twirl in their splendor. Once home, I recreated this tapa, which tastes divine, tipsy or not!
Though this recipe is quite simple, as most brilliant ones are, the old-world technique of boiling the peeled carrots whole is key to the pleasing texture and the added nutrition. First, the texture is ideally slightly soft with a firm center which can only be controlled by boiling the carrots whole, quickly chilling them in an ice water bath, and cutting them into a coin shape. Secondly, cooking and cutting help release the carotenoids, which are bound to the cell wall of carrots. If cooked too long vitamin C will be lost, making this an ideal way to prepare carrots. For the carotenoids to be absorbed during digestion they need to be served with a fat, like extra virgin olive oil. So, this recipe is not only flavorful and texturally appealing it is nutritionally beneficial.
Scroll to the bottom for a printable recipe.
1 pound organic carrots
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon cumin seeds
2 large cloves garlic, minced
¼ teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon Pimentón Dulce or smoky paprika
2 tablespoons Sherry vinegar
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1. Trim and peel the carrots. Prepare an ice water bath. Place whole carrots in a sauce pot with filtered water to just cover. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover and cook. Check the carrots at four minutes to test that they are tender but still slightly crisp. If not continue to cook until proper doneness. (Because of the different sizes of carrots some will take longer than others). Lift from the pan into the ice water bath. When completely cooled drain, pat dry, and slice into half-inch coins.
2. Heat the oil in a small sauté pan until it shimmers. Add the cumin seeds and garlic. Cook briefly until just smelling aromatic, about thirty seconds. Remove from the heat. Add the oregano, Pimentón, vinegar, and salt. Toss with the carrot coins. Taste, Think, Transform with salt and/or Sherry vinegar.
3. Marinate for at least thirty minutes to several hours at room temperature, tossing occasionally. Serve at room temperature.
It is imperative to use organic carrots. Their flavor is far superior to their commercial counterparts. Buy them with tops attached to ensure freshness.
This recipe may be made a day in advance and refrigerated. Bring back to room temperature to serve.