Carrot purée with spicy black beans and onions
Updated: Nov 17, 2022
I keep carrots in the house because I volunteer at a non-profit kid's riding program and horses love them. I always seem to have a lot of carrots in the fridge, though, because I can't slip them to my friends very often. They get treats from their little riders, and any more snacks will make them as fat as balloon animals. I mean, just look at their Christmas stockings:
My four-legged friends have good taste in vegetables. I like recipes that feature carrots as a main ingredient, not just lost somewhere in the mirepoix.
Not only are carrots sweet and delicious, cooking with them always prompts me to re-read this interview with chef Petter Nilsson in Food & Wine. Petter Nilsson is one of the visionaries behind the forage-focused "brutal bistro" school of Nordic restaurants that serve things like nettles and deep-fried lichen. The F&W profile of Nilsson is my favorite, and undoubtedly the most bonkers, food magazine article ever. Nilsson described his Malmo establishment in this way: "The cooking was very minimalist—a carrot served with a cumin seed and an anchovy. There was a big wow feeling about it." One of the things I like best about this interview is the by-line, which is simply "Food & Wine editors." No one wants to take responsibility for it. Here is a sample question:
Q. Do you still see carrots as a luxury ingredient?
A. I see luxury as eating a sweet carrot, but really, it's more than that. Eating a carrot directly from a neighbor's garden, that was something I did as a kid. There was soil on the carrot; there was my heart beating fast because I was stealing the carrot! I am more interested in the sensation of my heart pounding than the concept of a carrot in the soil as luxury.
I think my more fodder-forward friends at the barn might enjoy this restaurant, but probably not as much as the groundhogs.
This dish, which is from Nigel Slater's Eat, has a little too much human intervention (cooking) to strike my friends' fancy but will certainly appeal to humans. It is surprisingly hearty, and has a tantalizing combination of sweet, savory, and fragrant spice. It also takes just a few minutes to make.
1 lb carrots, cleaned and cut into chunks
2 tablespoons salted butter or olive oil (I used butter but this can be vegan by using oil)
1 14 oz can black beans
2 tsps mustard seeds (you can use more red pepper flakes, or some chopped up chili pepper)
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes, or more to taste
1 medium onion thinly sliced
salt & pepper
fresh, chopped cilantro to garnish
Heat a frying pan over medium heat and add a tablespoon of so of olive oil or butter. Add the onion with some salt, and cook until soft and caramelized.
Scrape the onions into a bowl and set aside.
Add the carrots to a medium-sized saucepan of water and bring it to the boil. Cook until a knife cuts through carrots easily.
Save 1/2 cup of cooking water from the pot, then drain.
Add carrots, with 2 tablespoons of the butter or oil and some salt and pepper, to a food processor. Drizzle in the cooking water as it mixes until you get a silky purée.
Add the mustard seed to the onion skillet and fry until they start to pop and jump.
Add the can of beans, liquid and all, to the skillet, along with the red pepper flakes. Stir until beans are thoroughly heated.
Plate the ingredients, starting with the carrot mash on the bottom, adding the bean mixture on top, finishing with the fried onions. Scatter chopped cilantro on top.