To be totally honest, I'm nearly always too lazy to peel carrots. I look for fresh bunches of spring carrots, or the smallest, babiest of spring carrots topped with lively, healthy-looking greens. In addition, peeling these guys strips away much of their barely rustic personality - another reason not to bother. I give them a good, hearty scrub, and they are ready to go. I cut back quite a bit on the ground cumin (feel free to use more!) and loaded up on the add-ins here, more than the original recipe calls for - also threw in some crumbled manouri cheese (totally optional) - feta or goat cheese would also do nicely, each in its own way.
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
1/4 cup olive oil
1 pound baby carrots (or spring carrots), washed and cut into halves and/or quarters lengthwise
sea salt to taste
1 tablespoon honey
lemon juice from one lemon
1/2 cup black olives (Moroccan, Kalamata, etc), each torn in half
1/2 cup orange syrup (1 cup orange juice reduced by half over medium heat)
1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped
1 tablespoon mint, chopped
1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted
Put cumin seeds in a heavy pan over medium heat and toast until fragrant, approximately five minutes. Grind cumin seeds in a spice grinder and set aside. Alternatively, if you don't have a grinder, use pre-ground cumin.
Pour olive oil in a skillet over high heat and add carrots. Cook 2 - 3 minutes. Lower heat to medium and cook another few minutes until the carrots become just barely tender, and loose much of their crunch and raw flavor. Salt to taste.
Drain carrots in a colander to get rid of excess oil.
Transfer carrots to a mixing bowl and add honey, lemon juice, olives, orange syrup and about half of the cumin. Toss gently. Taste, add more cumin if you like.
Just before serving toss in the cilantro, mint and pine nuts. Add a bit more salt to taste if needed. Serve next to your favorite tiny pasta, grain, or rice. Sardinian fregula is shown in the photo at the begining of the post.
Serves 4 to 6.
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