When visiting Spain or indeed France I feel that vegetarians generally have a tough life in restaurants and cafés as the fresh vegetable option is rather limited so unless you can survive on salads you are sometimes a bit stuck for choice.
Now, I am not a veggie by any stretch of the imagination, I’ll eat most things but will quickly draw a firm line when it comes to sheep’s eyes. However, I do have non-meat days by choice so I am always looking for a different way of presenting, say, carrots and here is one I found sometime ago. I think it is a Nigel Slater recipe and I am sure he won’t mind me repeating it here.
Serves 4 as a side dish
700g small/young carrots
2 cloves garlic
4 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1-2 tbsp harissa paste*
In a deep saucepan of boiling, lightly salted water, blanch the carrots, whole but trimmed of their leaves, until tender.
Peel and mash the garlic with a pestle and mortar or in a whizzer with the egg yolk, olive oil, vinegar, mustard and harissa.
Drain the carrots carefully and place on a serving dish. While the carrots are still warm, pour over the dressing and serve.
*Harissa paste is easy enough to make at home if you cannot find it at the supermarket and this is how I make mine.This makes enough to fill a 112g jar and any excess can easily be frozen in an ice cube tray.
5g hot chillies
½ tsp caraway seeds
½ tsp cumin seeds
½ tsp coriander seeds
2 fat garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
50g shallots, peeled and roughly chopped
¼ tsp salt
Note. I sometimes add a large chunk of fresh red pepper or tomato purée to the whizzer in order to help with the colour as it can look a bit pinkish sometimes.
Drop the tomatoes into a pan of boiling water for 30 seconds, then scoop them out. Peel off the skins.
The seeds and membranes inside the chilli contain most of the heat; you can choose to leave all the seeds in or, for a less intense paste, halve the chillies and cut at least some of the seeds out. Chop the chillies roughly.
Put the caraway, cumin and coriander in a dry frying pan and toast for a couple of minutes, shaking the pan to make sure they don’t burn.
Put the skinned tomatoes, chillies, toasted spices, garlic, shallots and salt in a food processor and blitz until well blended. Tip into a small saucepan and heat until boiling then simmer for about 10 minutes until reduced and starting to thicken. Leave to cool. Pack into warm, sterilised jars, leaving a 1cm gap at the top. Pour oil over the paste to completely cover it. Seal the jar. Store in the fridge and use within 3 months.
If you want to extend the shelf life of the paste, pack in small, sealable containers and freeze. Once opened, keep in the fridge, making sure the paste in the jar is completely covered by a layer of oil.