Dinner time is not a peaceful time in our corner of Amsterdam. With just two adults to feed, and no need to get dinner ready before a certain time, you might expect “dinner rush” to be “dinner calm” here. Hoo boy, is it ever not. An empty stomach makes for a grumpy Laura. This is the time of day when my man is most likely to get the evil eye for scattering random objects around the house, not switching off the light im-me-dia-te-ly after leaving a room or leaving the kitchen door open. I might give him the evil tongue as well. It’s not pretty, but there you have it.
In an effort to minimize the snapping (it is just so annoying when you have to apologize for the same thing every night), I try to make dinner prep as quick as possible. This curtails our food choices quite drastically, though. I am hesitant to stew or braise anything for a week-night dinner, because things might get ugly while they simmer. On the same note, if there are more than two major chopping components to a meal, I am probably saving it for the weekend.
Which is why I need a longer weekend. Two days a week is just not enough for all the delicious meals I want to cook. I think three days would suffice, but four would be even better. A night for stew, a night for a vegetable braise, a night for something from the oven and a night for a meal with lots of finely-chopped things. Can someone get on that, please?
In the mean time, I am making carrots. Now that carrots are on the big side, peeling enough of them for two really isn’t that much of an effort, nor is slicing them into coins. Grating a nub of ginger takes seconds with a microplane grater and squeezing a tube of harissa never tired anyone out. Peeling and thickly slicing an onion adds a few moments, but nothing to get too excited about.
While I get on that, the oven heats up, so it is ready for the fragrant coins as soon as I’m done. Then, while the carrots are turning tender and toothsome in the heat, I chop up a large handful of cilantro and a nice chunk of feta. There is even time to cut a couple of chicken breasts into strips, season them with smoked paprika and sear them in a hot pan. For carbohydrates, I pop a few bake-off rolls in the oven the last ten minutes of cooking or so. Within forty minutes, dinner is on the table, and I can worry about not burning my tongue instead of biting it.
Spicy gingered carrot coins with feta and cilantro
- 500 gr carrots
- 1 medium onion
- nub of fresh ginger (3 cm or so should do it)
- harissa to taste (I add a 5 cm squiggle, which gives a pleasant warmth, but no real heat)
- splash of vegetable oil
- chunk of feta
- bunch of cilantro
Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
Peel the carrots and slice them into fat coins. Peel the onion, and slice into thick quarter moons. Peel the ginger and grate into a pulp. Toss the carrot coins with oil, ginger, harissa, plenty of salt and pepper. Add the onion and mix well. Place in the oven and bake 15- 20 minutes or until tender, but not mushy.
Meanwhile, crumble the feta and roughly chop the cilantro. When the carrots are done, spread them over two plates and sprinkle with the cheese and the chopped cilantro. Serve with more harissa on the side, for heat lovers.