Salute the Salad : Farro, Herb-baked Tomatoes, Roast Carrots and Parmesan

Recipe courtesy of Psychologies Magazine (May 2016) and taken from “Savour : Salads for all seasons” by Peter Gordon.

Farro is a grain that has had a lot of attention in recent years.  I enjoy its texture and often use it in salads such as this.  Roast tomatoes are great in summer, when cooking makes them even sweeter.  In cooler months, roasting improves the flavour of hothouse-raised ones.

herb baked tomatoesServes 6 as a starter or side dish

Serve at room temperature

Ingredients :
300g farro, rinsed and drained
1/2 onion, chopped
1 bay leaf
3 tblsp baby capers
2 tblsp red wine vinegar
3 carrots (use orange and purple ones), peeled and tops cut off, halved lengthways
4 tblsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
6 plum tomatoes, halved lengthways
1 tsp roughly chopped oregano
1/2 tsp chopped rosemary
2 handfuls rocket
50g parmesan, shaved with a sharp knife

Step One : Preheat the oven to 170oC / 350oF / Gas mark 4.  Put the farro into a medium pan, cover with 3 cm of cold water and add the onion and bay leaf.  Bring to the boil and put a lid on the pan.  Reduce the heat to a rapid simmer and cook until the grains are tender, about 40 minutes.  Add 1 tsp of flaky salt after 20 minutes.  Drain in a colander, then transfer to a large bowl.  Taste for seasoning and mix in the capers and vinegar.  Leave to cool.

Step Two : While the farro is cooking, lay the carrots in a roasting dish, drizzle on 2 tblsp of the oil and half the thyme, season with salt and pepper and add 2 tblsp of water.  Roast for about 30 minutes; until you can easily insert a sharp knife through them.  Cut each into 5 or 6 pieces.

Step Three : Lay the tomato halves, cut side up, on a baking sheet lined with baking parchment (to make it easier to clean).  Mix the oregano, rosemary and the remaining thyme and 2 tblsp of oil and drizzle this on the tomatoes.  Sprinkle with a little salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Bake for 40-50 minutes until the tomatoes have shrunk a little and coloured slightly.

Step Four : To serve, toss the rocket loosely through the farro and divide among your plates.  Sit the carrots and tomatoes on top, pour on any roasting juices and then scatter with parmesan shavings.

Salute the Salad : Grilled Carrots, Manchego, Orange, Agave, Pecans and Sultanas

Recipe courtesy of Psychologies Magazine and taken from “Savour : Salads for all seasons” by Peter Gordon.

This relatively simple salad will seem all the more fabulous if you use a few different colours of carrots.   I found the combination of just two colours worked well and decided against using purple ones.  I’ve also made this using baby carrots, which looks and works a treat.  Manchego is a fantastic ewes’ milk cheese from La Mancha, near Madrid, in Spain.  If you prefer, you can use British Wigmore or Berkswell, Italian Pecorino, or some other firm ewes’ milk cheese – something you can shave or slice over the top.  Agave syrup is a fabulous, earthy, sweet syrup, which complements the pecans – replace it with maple syrup if you can’t find it.

Grilled carrotsServes 4 as a starter

Serve warm or at room temperature

600g carrots, peeled, halved lengthways
3 tblsp olive oil
2 oranges, segmented
3 tblsp agave syrup (or use maple syrup)
50g sultanas (or golden raisins)
100g pecans, toasted and chopped
1 spring onion, thinly sliced
handful salad leaves (perhaps rocket)
60g manchego

Step One : Steam or boil the carrots in salted water for 6 minutes.  If using baby carrots, cook for 4 minutes.  Tip into a colander and leave to drain.  Brush with 1 tablespoon of the oil and season with salt and pepper, then cook in a heavy based pan until coloured on both sides and cooked through, about 3-4 minutes depending on their size.  Leave to cool.

Step Two : Mix the orange segments with any of their juice you can squeeze from the ‘core’.  Add the agave syrup, sultanas and pecans.  Leave for 10 minutes, then mix in the remaining oil.  Leave for at least 20 minutes to allow the sultanas to soak up some of the liquid, tossing from time to time.  Just before serving, mix in the spring onion.

Step Three : To serve, lay the carrots on a platter or individual plates. Scatter on the salad leaves, then spoon on the orange, sultana and pecan mixture.  Thinly shave the manchego on top just before you serve it.


Carrots !

Some interesting facts about carrots …

  • IMG_1817The British eat their way through around 700,000 tonnes of carrots every year – that’s roughly 100 carrots per person.
  • The world’s longest carrot was grown by Joe Atherton from Nottinghamshire in 2007.  It measured in at 5.84 metres – over 19 foot long.
  • An 80g serving of carrots
    • that’s around half a medium-sized carrot
    • counts as one of your five a day.
  • Today purple carrots seem quite exotic, but when carrots first arrived in Britain from Afghanistan sometime around the seventh century AD, they were actually purple.

Recipe ideas with Carrots:-

Carrot and Spring Onion Latke
Latkes are normally made with potatoes.  Carrots give them a delicious hint of sweetness.
Whisk 2 eggs in a large bowl.  Add 500g grated carrots and 3 chopped spring onions; mix, then stir in 5 tblsp matzo meal and season with salt and pepper.
Scoop a large tblsp of the batter into a hot pan and fry at a medium heat until crisp and brown.  When ready, leave to drain on a paper towel and repeat until all of the batter has been used.  Serve with sour cream or crème fraiche.

Carrot Martini

It might not be as cool as 007, but this cocktail is very refreshing.  Blend 500g carrots with 200ml pineapple juice to a puree, then strain.  Add equal part of the carrot puree and orange-flavoured vodka or marmalade vodka to a cocktail shaker half filled with ice, give it a good shake and pour into martini glasses.  Garnish with a twist of orange.

Balsamic Glazed Baby Carrots

This sweet and sticky dish goes brilliantly with roast lamb.  Saute 300g baby carrots on a medium heat in 1 tblsp olive oil for about 10 mins, or until tender.  Stir in 1 tblsp balsamic vinegar and 1 tblsp brown sugar, stir to coat and serve.

(Article from Ocado Life)

Crispy Lamb & Poppadom Carrots

Recipe courtesy of Psychologies Magazine and is taken from the book : Salad Feasts: How to assemble the perfect meal by Jessica Elliott Dennison. 

This dish is full of great textural contrasts : crunchy poppadoms, smooth cooling yogurt, creamy chickpeas and aromatic spiced lamb; all of which are brought to life with pink pickled onion and a big dollop of mango chutney.

Crispy Lamb and Poppadom CarrotsIngredients (Serves 4)

  • ½ red onion
  • 2 limes
  • 300g minced lamb (around 15-20 per cent fat)
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 ½ tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ – 1 tsp chilli flakes (depending on how spicy you like it)
  • ¼ tsp sea salt flakes
  • 4 carrots (a variety of colours is nice if you can get them)
  • 6 small poppadoms
  • 100g radishes, finely sliced
  • 400g tin chickpeas in water, rinsed and drained
  • Small bunch (20g) coriander
  • 2 ½ tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 20g fresh ginger, peeled
  • 150g natural yogurt
  • 70g mango chutney
  1. First, peel the onion, slice into half-moons as finely as you can – a mandolin if handy for this – then place in a small bowl. Squeeze in the juice of 1 lime, then set aside to lightly pickle.
  2. Next, put a large frying pan over a high heat. Add the lamb and mustard seeds and cook for 5-6 minutes until caramelised.  Reduce the heat to low.  Add the ground cumin, coriander and cinnamon, chilli flakes and salt, then cook for a minute.  Turn off the heat, but leave the pan on the hob so the lamb stays warm.
  3. Top, tail and peel the carrots then shave ribbon lengths (stop once it gets too hard to peel the core) and transfer to a platter. Roughly crush 2 of the poppadoms and scatter them over the carrots along with the radishes and chickpeas.  Pick over the coriander leaves.
  4. At this stage, the onion should be bright pink and nicely pickled. Add the oil and honey to the bowl. Finely grate the ginger, then squeeze in the juice (discard the grated root).  Stir to combine.
  5. To assemble, scatter the onion over the carrots and gently toss with your hands, ensuring all the vegetables are coated in dressing (squeeze in more lime if it feels to dry). Spoon over the warm crispy lamb to finish, then serve with the rest of the poppadoms, yogurt, mango chutney and wedges of the remaining lime.

Foolproof Carrot Cake

This recipe courtesy of Easy Living Magazine

This cake is light with a soft texture.  It is based on a simple pound cake recipe, but the butter is replaced with vegetable oil and a luscious cream cheese and orange icing added on top. Make this in a shallow rectangular brownie tin and serve it cut into squares.

Serves : 12   –   Prep time : 25 mins   –   Cook time : 40 mins

For the cake:
250ml (8 fl oz) vegetable oil; 250g (8oz) caster sugar; finely grated zest of ½ orange; pinch of salt; 3 large free-range eggs, beaten; 250g (8oz) self-raising flour, sifted; 250g (8oz) grated carrot (about 3 large carrots)

For the icing:
400g (1oz) cream cheese (reduced fat, if you prefer); 75g (2 ½ oz) icing sugar, sifted; finely grated zest of ½ orange; 1-2 tbsp orange juice


  1. Heat the oven to 180oC (gas mark 4).  Grease a shallow 20 x 30cm (8 x 12in) cake tin and line the base and sides with baking paper, extending the paper 5cm (2 in) above the edge of the tin, to help remove the cake later.
  2. Place the oil, sugar, orange zest and salt in an electric mixer and mix on medium speed until well beaten.
  3. Transfer the beaten eggs to a jug.  Reduce the speed of the mixer and, with the motor running, gradually add the egg to the mixture, followed by an occasional spoonful of the flour.  Sift over the remaining flour and gently fold in with a large metal spoon until smooth.  Fold in the grated carrot.
  4. Spoon the batter into the tin and smooth the surface. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until golden and firm to the touch. A skewer inserted in the centre should come out clean.
  5. Cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then, using the overhanging baking paper turn the cake out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  6. To make the icing, use a hand-held electric beater to combine all the ingredients until smooth and light.  Spread over the top of the cake. Cut into 12 squares and serve.