Baby roasted garden carrots paired with pumpkin seed pesto and feta is a delicious combination and makes a very pretty lunch. Here I am using a firm ewes milk feta, but most sorts will work fine as long as it is not too soft.
a bunch of young carrots.
75ml of good olive oil.
4 fat cloves of garlic.
a bunch of fresh thyme or dried if you can’t get fresh.
a large bunch of fresh parsley.
1 lime or lemon.
1/2 a cup of pumpkin seeds.
200gms of firm feta, I am using Thorvald ewes milk feta.
1/2 teaspoon of orange oil if you have it. Optional. This is a useful oil to have in the store cupboard but its flavour is very strong and you need to be very careful how you use it or the flavour will dominate. 1/4 teaspoon at a time.
Clean the carrots and chop off the leaves, I like to leave a little bit of the green stems and their tails on. Then boil them for 5 minutes and drain. The pre boiling is not strictly necessary but I think it helps get a softer but caramelised roast carrot.
Zest and juice the orange and add to a roasting pan with 20ml of the olive oil, the orange oil if you are using it, the thyme, some salt and pepper and the drained carrots. Roast at 200c fan for a total of 1 hour, stir every now and then to ensure even roasting and oil coverage.Peel the garlic and slice in half, reserve one half clove for the pesto and add the rest to the roasting pan after the carrots have had half and hour.
While the carrots are roasting prepare the pesto. Remove the stems from the parsley and add the leaves to a small blender along with the pumpkin seeds, the reserved half clove of garlic, the juice from the lime or lemon, the rest of the olive oil and a further 1/4 teaspoon of orange oil if you are using it. Blitz until creamy and thick, add some salt to taste.When the carrots are done they will be caramelised and browned, their little tails will be crunchy and the garlic will be soft and browned. Remove the carrots and garlic from the pan.Slice the feta and wipe the pieces around the roasting pan with the orangey, thymey oil, you want it to pick up the crunchy roasted thyme and be flavoured with the oil.
Remove the seeds from the pomegranate. There are two ways to do this, either put a big bowl in the sink, slice the pomegranate in half and thwack the outside of it over the bowl with a wooden spoon, it sounds mad but it does work, just keep hitting it hard until the jewels are released. Or you can just cut it into quarters and pull out the jewels, but again use a large bowl in the sink as the juice is very staining and does have a tendency to splatter everywhere. Make sure you capture all the yummy juice as well as the seeds.
Now it’s time to plate up, lay out the carrots and garlic then artistically arrange some pesto and the feta broken up into chunks. You will have pesto left over, which is totally not a problem as it’s delicious with so many things or just eaten with a spoon in a hunger emergency.Top with a sprinkle of the pomegranate seeds and juice, you wont need it all, and finally some extra parsley.Lovely at room temperature or even better if the carrots are still a little warm.