This recipe was the result of a Masterchef cook-off at Daylesford’s Summer Festival last weekend. Giovanna Ryan and I had such fun cooking from a selection of surprise ingredients, all fresh from the Market Garden.
I adore the savoury tang of kefir and thought that this would contrast very well with the inherent sweetness of organic carrots, caramelized in a little local honey. The carrot top green sauce brightens the dish, and the miso pumpkin seeds add additional texture as well as an umami quality.
This recipe serves 4 people as a light lunch, and would work very well with fresh bread, some sliced ham, and a simple green salad.
for the curd & kefir blend:
4 tablespoons of Daylesford soft cheese
kefir, to loosen
for the carrot top sauce:
handful of carrot tops
handful of parsley and/or mint
1 teaspoon capers
½ lemon, juice only
tiny smidge of raw garlic
6 tablespoons olive oil
for the carrots:
bunch of carrots (approximately 12)
tablespoon olive oil
pinch sea salt
for the pumpkin seeds:
4 tablespoons pumpkin seeds
½ teaspoon miso paste
½ teaspoon honey
Combine the soft cheese with the kefir and mix very well to blend away any lumps. The texture should become that of a Greek yogurt. Hold this in the fridge while you prepare the other components.
Rinse the carrot tops. Pick the soft tops off from the tougher central stalks. Coarsely blitz these in a small food processor along with the parsley and/or mint, anchovy, capers, cornichons, lemon juice, and garlic. Add the olive oil as you go, aiming for a salsa verde, or chunky pesto texture. Alternatively, you can make a rough-cut green sauce by hand with your best knife. Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding a little salt if you like.
Toast the pumpkin seeds in a dry frying pan until they start to pop. While they are toasting, mix the miso and honey to form a paste. Add this to the saucepan and stir instantly, as it will sizzle immediately. Keep ‘stir-frying’ the pumpkin seeds until they’re evenly coated. Cook gently for 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly, until the seeds begin to look dry rather than glossy. Tip onto a square of parchment paper to cool.
Scrub the carrots, or simply peel if you wish. Bring a saucepan of salted water to the boil. Blanch the carrots for 3 minutes only, just to remove the raw bite. Drain these and allow the steam to billow off. Cut each carrot in half lengthways. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in the same saucepan, add the carrots back in along with a teaspoon of honey and a pinch of sea salt. Sautee these on a high heat, and allow them to char slightly. Once caramelized, tip onto a plate to cool slightly before plating.
Spoon the cheese & kefir mixture onto the base of your chosen serving plate. Pile on the carrots, dollop and drizzle with the carrot top sauce, and scatter with the miso pumpkin seeds. Garnish with a few micro leaves, rocket flowers or extra carrot tops if you wish.