Two things happened this weekend: winter arrived with a vengeance, and I managed to hermit inside and eat my weight in baked goods. First was the Flour Market – a roughly twice yearly event showcasing some of the best bakers & patisseries in Melbourne: for Lynnette and me it was breakfast, washed down with Market Lane Coffee. A sticky sugar coated donut bursting with creme patisserie and dollops of strawberry & bay leaf jam; a technically perfect lemon & mascarpone tart, topped with fresh figs & meringue; a deeply chocolatey brownie cookie sandwiching a mocha ganache centre; yet another donut, this time topped with maple & walnut crunch; a pina colada lamington of coconut cake coated in pineapple curd & toasted coconut flakes; and the obligatory sultana-studded, butter slathered hot cross bun. AND I came home with the best dessert jar I’ve ever had – layers of gooey salted caramel, hazelnut crunch, cloudy puffs of passionfruit and other unidentifiable but brilliant components.
Have I sold you on Melbourne yet, by the way? The city tourism should really employ me for this!
(If you’re visiting, the roll-call is: Cobb Lane Bakery, Millstone Patisserie, Butterbing Cookies, Shortshop Coffee & Donuts, and Pierre Roelof’s dessert jars.)
Sunday was the one day per year I go crazy on homemade hot cross buns. A friend and I proceeded to bake and demolish a huge batch of these roast pear & dark chocolate versions, filling the house with that unmistakable scent of freshly baked bread, warm spices and gooey chocolate. All while torrential rain fogged the windows and the temperature steadily dropped – the best kind of day to bake. Waiting for the dough to magically double on the windowsill meant time to make steaming bowls of steel-cut oat & chia porridge, topped with vanilla rhubarb & buttery macadamias. So all and all, one of those lovely slow weekends that is almost like a mini-holiday, particularly when sandwiched by long days of placement.
(FYI Mum, I did manage to fit some study in as well!).
Though it does mark the transition into more autumnal, wintery mains. This roast carrot, chickpea & avocado salad with cumin honey yogurt is an easy throw together dinner: carrots & chickpeas are tossed with crushed coriander and cumin and roasted until tender, and served with creamy slices of avocado, crunchy pumpkin seeds and handfuls of parsley. The cumin honey yogurt is the best – seriously, even if you don’t make the salad, you must try the yogurt with SOMETHING – it’s slightly sweet, tangy and spiced, and gives a major boost to anything with those middle-eastern flavours.
The carrot top pesto is great served alongside with slices of toasted flatbread, but you could also save it for dinner the next night – just loosen with pasta water and toss through freshly cooked pasta with other roast vegetables (try asparagus and peas in spring, red onion, zucchini and capsicum in summer; pumpkin and brussel sprouts in autumn). Two dinners in one!
- This is one of those recipes that is ultimately very flexible. You can serve it on a large tray, platter, or toss it in a bowl; serve the avocado on the side or dispersed throughout; you can add extra greens like spinach or watercress to bulk it out if you wish; you can serve it with toasted bruschetta smeared with carrot top pesto; you could try it with grilled chicken or lamb. Just make sure you make the cumin honey yogurt – it just finishes it off so well!
- If baby carrots are hard to find or expensive: just chop regular carrots to similar lengths and either skip the pesto or sub extra parsley and basil for the carrot tops.
- You could also instead use the carrot top pesto for a separate meal: loosen with pasta water and toss through freshly cooked pasta with other roast vegetables (asparagus and peas in spring, red onion, zucchini and capsicum in summer, or try pumpkin and brussel sprouts in autumn).
- 2 bunches baby carrots (about 600-700g), including tops (use for the pesto)
- 1 can chickpeas , drained and rinsed
- 4 sprigs of fresh thyme , leaves picked
- 2 teaspoons coriander seeds , toasted and crushed
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds , toasted and crushed
- generous freshly ground salt and pepper
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- 1/4 cup toasted mixed pumpkin and sunflower seeds
- 1-2 large avocadoes
- 1/2 cup roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 1/2 cup greek yogurt
- 1/2 teaspoon toasted ground cumin seeds or ground cumin
- 1/2 tablespoon honey
- 1 cup tightly packed carrot tops (if you can’t find carrots with their tops still on use extra parsley, coriander or basil)
- 1/2 cup flat leaf parsley
- 1/4 cup almonds
- 1 clove garlic
- 1/4 cup grated parmesan
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- 1/4 - 1/3 cup olive oil
Preheat the oven to 200°C.
Rinse the baby carrots and pat dry. Halve any large carrots so they are all a similar size.
On a large baking paper lined baking tray, spread out the baby carrots and chickpeas. Combine the crushed cumin & coriander seeds (best done in a mortar & pestle, if you have one) with thyme, salt and pepper, red wine vinegar and olive oil. Pour over the carrots & chickpeas and toss to coat.
Bake for 20-30 minutes or until just tender (depends on the size of your carrots.)
Combine the cumin, yogurt and honey in a bowl and refrigerate until needed.
When ready to serve, toss together the carrots, chickpeas, lemon juice, toasted seeds, avocado, and parsley in a large bowl
Serve with a dollop of cumin honey and a drizzle of pesto
I also serve this with lamb and warm flatbread.
Use a food processor to pulse the carrot tops, parsley, almonds, garlic and parmesan until finely chopped.
Add the lemon juice, then slowly drizzle in the olive oil while processing until a pesto forms.
Transfer to a jar or bowl, refrigerate until ready to use.