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Dipped Into This One

If I am able to put something–anything– in a bowl and serve it to guests with a few vegetables or slices of bread for dipping while I finish cooking dinner…Well, it makes me a happy camper. Even if it’s a small bowl of fruity olive oil with some fresh herbs and a pulverized clove of garlic, the ordinary becomes something that guests greedily eat up.

The something last week was anything but ordinary yet inclusive of customary ingredients save for a fiery Tunisian paste known as harissa (peppers, coriander, cumin, garlic and olive oil); a spicy carrot puree.

As pointed out by Luke, this dip was overshadowed by my leek meze for our most recent FMC and for good reason; it’s delicious and unique. I had two pounds of beautiful baby carrots from the market and I was trying to think of the best use for them.

This puree I read about in my new companion, “The New Book of Middle Eastern Food,” seemed intriguing enough. I’m a massive fan of harissa (you can find jarred and fresh harissa in markets such as Whole Foods and Dean & Deluca–as I did) or make your own–something I must commit to doing at some point.

This was beyond-easy. Don’t overcook the carrots. If you do, I’ll be disgusted. Seriously, drop in boiling water for just shy of ten minutes and let them cool on a cutting board before you blitz in a processor or mash by hand. Oh, don’t puree the hell out of these, capice?  You don’t need a velvety texture. Keep it kinda chunky. Let your dip have some personality. Serve it along side some hummus with freshly-ground cumin and some vegetables like persian cucumbers and baby carrots. Toast some pita, too, and serve.

Omi Houriya-Spicy Carrot Puree
The New Book of Middle Eastern Food

Serves 6

1 1/2 pounds carrots
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons wine vinegar
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2-1 teaspoon harissa or 1 teaspoon paprika and good pinch of chili pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin or caraway seeds – Toasted cumin seeds
1/3-1/2 teaspoon ground ginger – I used a good knob of fresh ginger

Peel the carrots and cut into large pieces. Boil them in salted water until tender, then drain and chop them with a knife or mash them with a fork.

Mix well with the rest of the ingredients and serve cold.

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