How are your Christmas preparations – assuming you even celebrate it – coming along? I’ve only just recovered from Thanksgiving recipes and now I am ready to throw myself into another festive madness – bring it on. I am kicking this festive recipe collection with a simple yet delectable side as everyone needs them in their life, right?
For today, I made a platter of sticky roasted carrots glazed in an addictive pomegranate molasses glaze and topped with an even more addictive (I might have or might have not eaten an entire portion of it when shooting these photos…) dukkah brittle, which brings in a lot of flavour and interesting texture to this dish.
This dish is really simple to make but it looks a picture, doesn’t it? The carrots look all festive thanks to the addition of bright red pomegranate arils and fresh thyme. Here is some more details about the ingredients in case you want to make some swaps.
MORE ABOUT THE INGREDIENTS
WHOLE SPICES: I used a holy trinity of coriander seeds, fennel seeds and cumin seeds to make my dukkah brittle. I love how they contribute tiny pops of flavour here and there. If you have the time, pan-roast them on a dry frying pan for a few minutes first – until golden and fragrant – as this simple step releases their oils and makes them taste even better. If you don’t have these spices on hand and you would still like to make this dish, why not sure their dry equivalents? Instead of adding them to the brittle, add them to the carrots when you first put them in the oven. As ground spices are more concentrated, use only about 50% of dry compared to whole.
HAZELNUTS: Hazelnuts offer a beautiful crunch and they work really well in this dish, but if you are allergic to nuts sub them with almonds, for example. If you are allergic to almonds too, pumpkin and sunflower seeds would also work well.
MAPLE SYRUP: Maple syrup is what binds the brittle together and it also helps to caramelise carrots and provides a nice counterpoint to the sour taste of pomegranate molasses. If you want an alternative, date syrup – homemade or shop-bought – would be a nice substitute or you could also just use brown sugar – it will liquify in the oven’s heat.
CARROTS: You could use any carrots you like, but the key thing is that they need to be of uniform size so that they cook at the same rate. If your carrots are really small (like Chantenay variety here in the UK), you may want to lower the temperature a little or else their skinny ends will burn too quickly. If you have some big carrots in amongst smaller ones, simply half them lengthwise to make skinner. Keep a skewer or a sharp pairing knife on hand to be able to check carrots for doneness before coating them in the glaze.
THYME: I used fresh thyme to add more flavour here and to decorate, but you could use a few pinches of dry thyme – go easy as it’s way more intense when it’s dry – and decorate with another herb, like fresh parsley for example or even chopped carrot tops (they are bitter though so do not use loads or remove before consumption)
POMEGRANATE MOLASSES: Pomegranate molasses is a thick syrupy condiment beloved of the countries in the south of the Mediterranean Sea. In the UK, you can find it in well stocked corner stores selling North African spices and ingredients. I’ve also seen it in large supermarkets. It is tangy-sweet (but predominantly tangy) in flavour so you could substitute it with aged balsamic vinegar instead.
POMEGRANATE ARILS: To carry the theme on, I used fresh pomegranate arils to decorate this dish and make it look festive. You could use dried cranberries soaked in warm orange juice instead, for example.
Start on the brittle by crushing whole spices in a pestle and mortar and combining them with crushed hazelnuts, maple syrup and olive oil. If you have the time and the inclination, I recommend toasting these spices gently on a dry frying pan first as this makes them taste even more sensational.
Once everything is well combined, spread the mixture on a paper lined baking tray and bake for 10-12 minutes. Once golden, take out of the oven and do not touch (I know, it’s haaaaard!!) until completely cold. It’s worth it, trust me. Once cool, you’ll be able to break the brittle with your hands, like in my right-hand side photo.
Once you prepped your carrots, coat them in olive oil, season with salt, pepper and thyme and bake until cooked through – use a sharp pairing knife to check their thickest part. If some carrots are done and others still a bit tough, remove them from the tray and carry on roasting the rest until cooked through.
Next and final step is to coat semi roasted carrots in the sticky glaze and roast them some more. If you have extra glaze (you should), glaze them twice, baking the glaze on for a few minutes each time. Then you are ready to plate and tuck in.
- 3 g / 1½ tsp coriander seeds
- 1 g / ½ tsp fennel seeds
- 1½ g / ¾ tsp cumin seeds
- a pinch of chilli (I use pul biber), optional
- ¼ tsp flaky salt, to taste
- 65 g / ½ cup blanched hazelnuts
- 1 tbsp sesame seeds
- 30 ml / 2 tbsp maple syrup or date syrup
- 10 ml / 2 tsp olive oil
- Set the oven to 160° C / 320° F (or 140° C / 285° F less with fan) and line a baking tray with baking paper.
- OPTIONAL: If you have time, dry toasting the seeds until fragrant and golden intensifies their flavour. Cool if you do that.
- Place coriander, cumin and fennel seeds in a pestle and mortar, along a pinch of chilli (if using) and salt. Crush everything until coarse.
- Chop hazelnuts coarsely, you want some half pieces and some small pieces in the mix and place in a bowl with sesame seeds and crushed spices.
- Mix in maple syrup and olive oil then spread on the baking try in a solid slab.
- Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden, then allow to cool completely – it crisps up as it cools – before using.
- Set the oven to 220° C / 430° F (or 200° C / 390° F less with fan) and line one large baking tray with baking paper.
- Wash the carrots well and dry them thoroughly. Trim the ends with the green tops if needed.
- Coat in oil, sprinkle with salt, pepper and thyme and roast until the thickest part is cooked through – pierce with a pairing knife to check – about 20 minutes. If only some are done, remove them from the tray and return the rest to the oven for further 5 minutes or so.
- In a small bowl, combine pomegranate molasses and maple syrup and coat carrots in that mixture. Return them to the oven for another 5-7 minutes – until sticky and caramelised. If you have leftover glaze, glaze them again after 4 minutes and return to the oven a few minutes.
- Arrange roasted carrots on a serving platter, garnish with dukkah brittle, pomegranate arils and fresh thyme.