I’ll be honest. I’ve had better Tuesdays. Mainly those which haven’t involved my fridge breaking down, my washing machine destroying my favourite cardigan and a nurse telling me off for my love of peanut butter (it’s bad for your cholesterol apparently). Hence why I am sitting here, watching Newsnight, eating huge handfuls of these Marinated Carrots with Basil and Mint and feeling more than a little sorry for myself.
I’m a sucker for anything pickled at the best of times (when we were kids, my sister and I would eat huge dill pickles by the jarful). So, seeing as I’m on a diet at the moment and therefor unable to indulge in cake and wine on a whim, it’s pickles I turn to when I’m craving sharp slices of comfort. When I found myself in posession of a glut of carrots recently, I decided not to turn them into soup, but douse them in vinegar, oil and herbs instead. The end result was delicious – bright, zingy and just on the right side of lip puckering, the perfect thing to garnish a dull winter salad (I’ve recently been adding them to huge bowls of couscous studded with crunchy chickpeas and nuggets of salty feta) or add a bit of life to a falafel wrap.
Whilst the original recipe for these over at Serious Eats calls for you to just use plain old oil, I decided to jazz mine up a bit with some homemade chilli oil that I keep stuffed away at the back of my cupboards for these type of occasions. If you want to make your own, it’s dead easy – just heat up some vegetable oil, and pour it over some dried chillies (or dried chilli flakes). Once it’s cooled, you’re ready to go.
A word to the wise when you’re pickling your carrots though – I’m not joking when I say that you need to keep these covered whilst they’re marinating. I left them uncovered in a glass bowl at the back of the fridge, leading Mr. Cay to tell me in no uncertain terms that opening our fridge was “like that scene in the X-Files where Mulder sees an alien and wakes up to discover burns around his eyes and mouth.” So if you don’t want to be hit in the face with a wave of pungent vinegar fumes every time you’re reaching for the milk, keep them safely sealed in a plastic tub until you need to use them.
MARINATED CARROTS WITH BASIL AND MINT (Makes four decent sized portions)
Adapted from Serious Eats
You will need:
- 6-7 medium sized carrots
- 3 tbsp chilli oil (although ordinary olive oil works just as well)
- 3 tbsp rice vinegar
- 2 tbsp chopped mint
- 2 tbsp chopped basil
- 1 small clove of garlic, minced finely
- Salt and Pepper to season
- Peel carrots and slice them into thick rounds (they should be roughly the thickness of a 2p coin). Simmer in a pot of salted water until just tender.
- While carrots cook, whisk together the chilli oil, rice vinegar, basil, mint, diced garlic and salt and pepper.
- Drain the carrots, toss them together with the vinaigrette in a large bowl and let them sit until carrots are cool.
- Place carrots in refrigerator and let them marinate for at least 1 hour before serving.(It’s best to cover the carrots with clingfilm whilst they’re marinating, otherwise they will stink out everything in your fridge). They’ll keep for around 4-5 days.