The Gift Of Family and A Versatile Roasted Carrot Recipe

Before I get into the recipe…I think we should get caught up! After all it’s been awhile.

I missed you so much.

You know, I hadn’t intended to be away quite so long. I had hoped to host our regular Keep It Real Thursdays, but alas, I’m a few days late.

It has been a hectic couple of weeks and I am glad to be back to a regular routine. We had some challenges, suffered losses and over came some health issues, human and canine. But such is life.

The good news is that in each case there was a silver lining and I am so thankful for the blessings in my life.

On December 23rd, 2012, I lost my grandmother, Alfreda Perra. She was my mom’s mom and the last of my living grandparents. It was unexpected and very sad. I know losing a loved one is always sad, but right before Christmas…is worse.

The holidays always seem to accentuate the sadness of a such a loss. But she lived a long life. Most of us would be so thankful to make it to 95 years of age. I know I’d be super stoked to get to 95! Wouldn’t you?

I am grateful for the nice memories I have of her. It’s those wonderful memories of her, which I think helps soften the emotions of loss, as the memories will always be with me. She was the one who showed me how to make bread and rolls (her dinner rolls were the best, I could eat 6 of them at a sitting back then). I was maybe 7 or 8 years old. Or picking and canning cherries from their tree in the backyard. Or even the look on her face the day we all went to the beach in Kelowna and Grandma saw a lady wearing a thong bikini! Priceless.

On Christmas day this year, I was in charge of bringing buns to my friends house for dinner. I was grateful for the lessons she taught me in the kitchen and how precious to have her with me on that very Christmas day, making buns, only days later.

My late grandma Alfreda and my grandfather Ernie with my late mother Irene

Even though funerals are sad, I am always grateful to be reunited with my Perra family. I don’t get to see them often enough, yet somehow the bond never feels weakened. So though the gathering was brought on by the loss of a special woman, I rejoice the short time I was able to spend with the Perra family, surrounded by love.

I won’t go into details about the food poisoning and the doggy surgery, since you’d be here all day reading boring blah blah blah, so I’ll get onto the real reason you’re here, yummy nutritious food.

This month I plan to focus on delicious winter salads using some easily accessible winter vegetables that are not only nutritious but delicious. After several weeks of eating rich or sugary foods, drinking too much alcohol or attending one to many parties, most of us are trying to get back on track and eat better. If you’re trying to lose the few pounds you put on over the holidays, I DON’T recommend food poisoning, however effective it might be.

Salads are a great way of getting more veggies in, but they don’t have to be of the iceberg lettuce variety. They can be exciting, bold and hold up to dressings overnight in the fridge and get packed up easily for lunch the next day.

Today I wanted to share this flavorful side dish that turns into a delicious salad the next day. I love leftovers that don’t look like the way they did the day before. It makes me feel like I get to eat something special and new.

The kitchen notes offers some suggestions on how to make this same dish several ways using different herbs, so you can make it every week without it tasting like the “same old” carrots again.

This recipe serves 2 for dinner, but double accordingly if you have more mouths to feed or you’d like to have the lunch salad tomorrow.

Roasted Carrots

  • 4 carrots
  • 1 medium shallot, sliced approximately a 1/4 cup
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seed, crushed
  • 1 Tbsp each olive oil and fresh orange juice
  • salt and pepper
  • Green onions sliced on the bias or chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish (optional)

Preheat the oven to 375 F. Toss all the ingredients in a large bowl and toss until well coated. Place the carrots into a baking dish and bake uncovered for 30 minutes or until tender. If you like, you can broil them for the last 5 minutes of the cooking time to develop the caramelized flavor of the carrots and onions.

Tip: If you are making the salad with leftovers tomorrow, now is a great time to toast 1/2 cup of walnuts or nuts of choice.

Kitchen Notes:

If you’re in a hurry, there’s no reason why these carrots couldn’t be baked at 425 F for less time. The look of this dish can easily be varied by simply changing the way the carrots are sliced.

Substitute fresh dill or tarragon for the fennel seeds or try it with tossing the carrots with a Tbsp of honey (substitute maple syrup or agave for vegans) and 1/4 cup of toasted almonds.

If you’d like a more exotic taste, add a 1/2 tsp crushed cumin seeds to the fennel seeds and sprinkle the carrots with 1/2 tsp dried chilies and  1/4 cup of raisins before baking. Top with fresh cut cilantro before serving and a side of raita. Add quinoa or millet for a flavorful vegetarian meal (skip the raita for a vegan meal).

Spinach and Roasted Carrot and Fennel Salad

Per person

  • 2 cups of spinach
  • 1 cup of roasted carrots with fennel (recipe above)
  • Toasted walnuts
  • 1 Tbsp goat cheese(optional)
  • Citrus Dressing (below)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Top the spinach withe the carrots. Add the walnuts, goat cheese and dressing. If you;d like to make this ahead of time to bring for lunch tomorrow, add the dressing right before serving to assure the spinach doesn’t wilt. If you like you can even serve this with orange segments.

Citrus Dressing

  • 1 Tbsp fresh orange juice
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Whisk the ingredients together and season with salt and pepper.

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13 Responses to The Gift Of Family and A Versatile Roasted Carrot Recipe

  1. xania January 6, 2013 at 5:23 pm #

    (((BIG HUG)))

    • France Morissette January 6, 2013 at 9:06 pm #

      That’s sweet, Thank you Xania

  2. Dolores January 6, 2013 at 11:04 pm #

    I’m sending you love…for your family’s loss. Don’t forget, Spirit never dies. Your grandmother will always be here…as long as you’re here.

    • France Morissette January 7, 2013 at 6:27 am #

      So true Dolores, She was with me on Christmas day when I was baking those buns, that I’m certain off.

  3. Juliette January 7, 2013 at 3:15 am #

    So sorry for your loss, blessings to all!

    • France Morissette January 7, 2013 at 6:27 am #

      Thank you for your kind words Juliette. Losing a loved one is always hard.

  4. Sylvie January 7, 2013 at 4:22 am #

    Thanks so much for sharing. Families are so important, especially grandmothers. We learn a great deal from them. Bless you.

  5. mjskit @ mjskitchen.com January 9, 2013 at 3:39 am #

    So sorry to hear about your grandmother. The picture of her, your grandfather and mother is great. Thanks for sharing such a tender moment. Roasted carrots are fabulous and I never thought of adding them to salad. In this house they get gobbled up so quickly I’m not sure they would make it to a salad. Wishing you a wonderful 2013!

    • France Morissette January 9, 2013 at 8:49 pm #

      Thank you Mj. I love that picture. It’s sad that everyone in it is no longer with us, but they blessed us with who they were while they were here.

  6. Rose Nassif Travers January 12, 2013 at 9:54 am #

    So good to know some very important traditions have been passed on from your grandmother to you. Keep her spirit alive through your cooking. God bless and thanks for the great salad recipe!

    • France Morissette January 13, 2013 at 12:29 am #

      Thanks Rose for you kind words. She will be missed.

  7. inspirededibles January 12, 2013 at 9:18 pm #

    France, welcome back and thank you for sharing a little bit about your holiday. I’m so sorry to hear about the loss of your dear grandmother, Alfreda. You’re right, losing a family member is never easy but the holidays can be particularly difficult to get through during these tender times… I’m so glad you took some time off. After all, as much as we enjoy our food blogs, they are just that. Wishing you and yours a radiant new year – all the best my friend, xo

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