Roasted carrot spread
I do love carrots. They are full of nutrients and fiber, inexpensive, available year around, and durable. And their bright orange color (or other colors, if you delve into the exotic varieties) add instant cheer to any dish or bento box. So when I saw that my favorite vegan author Yumiko Kano was coming out with a new book of just carrot recipes, I reserved it in advance without a second thought.
This is a recipe adapted from that book. It's a soft, light carrot spread or paste that is sweet, salty and a bit spicy. It has tahini (sesame seed paste) in it, which adds richness as well as protein. The spiciness comes from cumin and red chili pepper powder, and the sweetness comes from the carrot itself, which is roasted to intensify the flavor, and a tad of raw cane sugar. It is great as a spread on crackers or rice cakes or toast, or as a dip. The soft texture means it can't quite substitute for peanut butter in a pb and j sandwich, but it's fantastic in a wrap sandwich. It is of course totally gluten-free and nut-free too, so if your child's school has a "no-nut" policy, which seems to be increasingly common these days, this is great.
Roasted carrot spread
Makes about 1 1/2 cups. (Calories for the entire amount: approx: 320. Per tablespoon: 13 calories.)
- 2 large carrots, weight approx. 340 g / 12 oz. in total
- 2 Tbs. tahini (sesame paste), well stirred
- 1/2 Tbs. olive oil
- 1/2 tsp. salt or to taste, plus a little for sprinkling
- 1 Tbs. raw cane or light brown sugar, or to taste
- 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
- Pinch red chili pepper powder, or to taste
Heat up the oven to 180°C / 360°F. Wash two carrots, cut them up roughly, sprinkle with a little salt, and wrap them loosely in kitchen parchment paper or aluminum foil. Bake in the oven for about 25-30 minutes, until soft. Open the paper up for the last few minutes to evaporate any accumulated moisture.
Let cool a bit, and put the pieces in the bowl of a food processor with the other ingredients. Process until smooth. You may need to scrape down the sides of the bowl a few times. Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed.
This will keep in the refrigerator for a few days, well covered. You can also freeze it in small packets of plastic film.
(The original recipe added some soy sauce, pepper, and lemon juice, and had no sugar. I added sugar to make it a bit sweeter, but you can reduce or omit it. I felt the soy sauce and lemon juice distracted from the roast-carroty taste so left them out.)
For a bento or lunch box, if you're not using it in a wrap, pack it into a small container with a spoon, with bread, crackers, pitas etc. separate. The eater can spread the paste on to the bread etc. at lunchtime.
Some more bento-ready carrot recipes
- Easy carrot kinpira
- Miso tahini walnut carrots (another Yumiko Kano-inspired recipe!)
- Carrot rice
- Carrot and sesame furikake
The all-carrot vegan cookbook
The book in question is called Yasai marugoto cookbook - ninjin ryouri (Whole vegetable cookbook: Carrot cuisine). It's the first in a series - I also have the second volume, dedicated to the cabbage - it's also terrific. Two further volumes about greens and daikon radish were just recently published.
Note that Yumiko Kano's books are vegan (using no dairy products, meat or fish, or eggs), but most recipes are not gluten or nut-free (she uses nuts quite a lot actually, and flour in most of her baking recipes.) And just in case, they are all in Japanese only I'm afraid.