carrot double-whammy

i like carrots but rarely seem to have creative thoughts about the, most often they just end up being eaten raw, by david, while he’s prowling for snacks when supper is being cooked. 

however, i needed a veggie starter for a recent supper with friends and came across a carrot-tastic feast courtesy of maria elia’s modern vegetarian – carrot pancakes with carrot hummus and feta salad.

i skipped the feta salad as we were having goats’ cheese for our main course (toasted and served on a bed of puy lentils flavoured with caramelised onions, wild mushrooms and spinach) and kept it simple so that the pancakes and hummus could be the focus of the dish.

the result was predictably delicious and i have found a great new way to use carrots. the pancakes are wonderfully flexible as they can be frozen and reheated. the hummus (which is worth making anyway, as an alternative to plain hummus) can also be made in advance, although i haven’t tried freezing it. a good start option for a festive meal? or make mini ones as part of a canape selection.

maria elia carrot pancakes with hummus and a feta salad (serves 4)

for the pancakes

150g carrots, grated

1 small onion, peeled and finely chopped

2 green chillies, deseeded and finely chopped

2 teaspoons cumin seeds

1 teaspoons fennel seeds

2 teaspoons ground coriander

2 tablespoons chopped coriander

1 teaspoon baking powder

100g chickpea flour

50g semolina

salt to taste

3 tablespoons olive oil for frying

for the hummus

200g carrots, peeled and thinly sliced

4 tablespoons olive oil

pinch of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

200g cooked chickpeas (drained from a 400g tin will do)

1 garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped

juice of half a lemon

2 tablespoons tahini

1 teaspoon ground cumin (i toasted cumin seeds and then ground them)

for the salad (i just used a bag of mixed leaves)

1 bunch watercress

1 orange

1 punnet shiso (or any micro) sprouts

1 punnet coriander sprouts (or use coriander leaf)

12 mint leaves, torn

50g alfalfa shoots

25g flaked almonds, toasted

pinch ground cinnamon 

50g feta cheese, crumbled, or more to taste (omit to make this vegan)

for the dressing

25ml sherry vinegar

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp dijon mustard

pinch sugar

1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed

preheat the oven to 200c. to make the pancakes, mix all the pancake ingredients except the olive oil together. add 150ml-200ml water to form a thick batter.

heat the oil in a small nonstick frying pan until hot, then spoon in a quarter of the batter* and fry until golden on both sides, about 2 minutes each side. repeat with the remaining mixture to make four pancakes in total and leave to cool on a wire rack.

to make the hummus, drizzle the carrots with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. place on a baking tray and roast for about 20 minutes or until softened. while still hot, put them in a blender with the remaining hummus ingredients and whiz to a smooth purée, adding a little water if too thick. season again if necessary and refrigerate until needed. (if you prefer, you can boil the carrots instead; just cook until tender and follow the recipe as above).

to make the salad, trim the watercress, removing any thick stems. peel and segment the orange, removing all the pith and membranes. combine all salad ingredients and toss together well. whisk the dressing ingredients together with 25ml water and season to taste.

to assemble, reheat the pancakes in a warm oven, place on individual plates and top with the carrot hummus. dress the salad with the sherry dressing and place on top of the hummus. 

* i made more, smaller pancakes