Now I’m never one to say no to something with Moroccan flavours, but I don’t tend to eat a lot of pastry so this was something a bit different for me! This recipe was actually found for me on BBC Radio 2’s Foodie Thursdays by my colleague Clare, who has been particularly supportive of the blog and has been giving me lots of good little tips and ideas. The great thing about sharing recipes and food ideas with friends is that you end up with things that you don’t normally pick out yourself, and I think I’ve landed on a dish here that makes a particularly brilliant impressive looking starter.
I also learned a fun fact about carrots in the process (and that’s certainly not something that happens everyday): the wider the diameter of the carrot, the sweeter it tends to be because the sugars tend to be more concentrated in the core.
Another good thing about this recipe is that it’s pretty cheap to make. If you’ve already got the basic cumin, coriander and cinnamon trio of Moroccan in the house, all you’ll really need to buy is the carrots and ready made puff pastry. The only sticking point for me was the sherry vinegar. Now like me, I expect there’s a line most of you won’t cross in cooking. In those recipes with endless or abstract ingredients, or even fairly simple ones there will be that one annoying thing you just don’t want to invest in. For me, sherry vinegar has long been a line that I just haven’t been willing to cross and it has put me off a load of otherwise very attractive looking recipes. While looking into possible substitutes for recipes, I learned that you can instead use white or red wine vinegar (which you are of course welcome to do too) or rice vinegar (which to me sounds like an even more abstract, annoying ingredient). It turns out that sherry vinegar provides a subtle sweetness, which places it at the happy medium on a scale between the more acidic wine vinegars and the particularly sweet balsamic vinegar (which I absolutely love). This apparently makes it perfect in dishes or salads where you don’t want to mask or overpower more subtle flavours. I’d talked myself out of buying it, but in explaining the rationale behind the substitutes to Clare I actually ended up talking myself back into it. I’ve since tried it to dress salads as well – pretty good actually. The choice is of course, yours to make.
So as I said before I’d recommend this most highly as a starter, which can be served to 4 people. The actual time spent preparing this dish is pretty quick, but you need to factor in some time to let the carrots cool to avoid the dreaded ‘soggy bottom’ and for it to bake in the oven. This is another reason why it makes a pretty good starter because you can quite easily do a bit of separate cooking at the same time. It does work well as a main course as well for the same number of people, served with a decent salad or a simple cous cous with a bit of lemon and coriander. The yoghurt is of course optional, but does provide a lovely fresh contrast to the tart tartin.
– 500g carrots, peeled and sliced to at least 1cm thick
– 1 tsp cumin seeds (can be substituted with ground cumin, but add along with the other ground herbs if you opt for this)
– 1 tsp ground coriander (or seeds, if you have them)
– ½ tsp paprika
– ½ tsp ground cinnamon
– 50g margerine or butter
– 1 tbsp sherry vinegar (as stated above, can use red or white wine vinegar as a substitute)
– 1 tsp honey
– around 250g ready-made and rolled puff pastry, at room temperature
– salt and pepper, to season
– 1 tbsp chopped fresh coriander, to serve
– 3 tbsp Greek yoghurt (can use natural yoghurt, but will be less thick and creamy)
– 1/4 clove garlic, finely grated
– 1 tbsp of fresh coriander, chopped
– 2 generous squeezes of lemon juice, or to taste
1. In a saucepan with boiling water, boil the carrots for around 5 minutes or until they start to become just a little bit tender. Give one of then a quick stab with a knife as a test to check when they’re ready. Then drain the carrots.
2. If you’re using cumin (and coriander seeds), toast these in a frying pan over a medium heat for several minutes until they start to become fragrant. Then, remove and roughly grind in a pestle and mortar to release the flavours before mixing them in with the ground coriander, paprika and cinnamon. If you’re using all ground spices, skip this step and add them straight in with the butter.
3. In the same frying pan, add the butter and melt over a low heat. Then, add the ground spices and season lightly with salt and pepper, stirring well.
4. Add the drained carrots and continue to stir for about 5 minutes, ensuring that the carrots are well coated in the butter and spice mix. Then add the sherry vinegar and honey.
5. Take a baking tin (I used a 23cm sandwich tin) and spread all the carrots and buttery mix into a single layer (as seen below). Set aside and leave until the carrots have cooled.
5. Preheat the oven to 200°c/gas mark 7. When your carrots are cool, take the ready rolled puff pastry and use the baking tin as a guide to help you cut a circle of puff pastry to around 1-2 cm wider than your tin. Then lay these over the carrots and gentle push any excess pastry between the outer carrots and the edge of the tin.
6. Bake in the oven for around 25 mins or until the pastry is a lovely golden colour. While your tart tartin is in the oven, make your yoghurt dressing by mixing together the Greek yoghurt, garlic, coriander and lemon juice. Leave the yoghurt dressing in the fridge until the tart tartin is ready to serve.
7. Remove from the tart tartin from the oven and leave to cool for several minutes before using a plate or a wooden board to carefully flip the tart tartin upside down. If there is any of the butter spices mix remaining in the tin, scrape this out and put it over the carrots.
8. Serve either hot or cold, garnished with some fresh coriander and with the yoghurt dressing.
Recipe based on Nigels’ Moroccan Carrot Tart Tartin from BBC Radio 2’s Foodie Thursdays