Pan-Roasted Carrots with Carrot Top Pesto
Not sure what the dialogue in your head is like when you wake up in the morning but mine goes something like this...
"No, no, noooo. Ugghhhhh. Anxiety, you're seriously so predictable. I feel like there's a 300 pound man sitting on my chest right now. That would actually be so awkward. What does a panic attack feel like? How do you even know you're actually having one? How many people that think they're having one actually are? You're probably not having one right now. You're not that person. Where's my phone? If I don't get up right now its not going to happen. It's leg day. I procrastinated yesterday. I procrastinate every freaking day. But seriously don't do it again. This morning was going to be different. I mean, come on. Do you have any ounce of discipline in you at all? Am I the first one awake? No foot steps above yet and no whirling blender next door. Ugh. Praise God. How long can I live here without going crazy? Maybe I really should email the landlord. No, this is the city. It is what it is. I should just buy the girl upstairs slippers for Christmas and tell the people next door that I'm privy to their upcoming party with margaritas and meatballs because I can hear every single word of their conversations and be thankful that it's not worse. How could it be worse? Is that passive aggressive? What if I live in this apartment forever? Don't think about that. If I get up now I can still be at the gym by 6. What is happening with this Friday job? I should send a formal estimate first thing today. They're probably gonna try and not pay me. I'll for sure be taking them to small claims court. I won't let them get away with that. Do you hire someone for that? Maybe I should just eat the loss. Dammit. I forgot to send that email. Again. It's been over a week. And I never texted so-and-so back. Why do I stick my head in the sand like that? It was on my to-do list. Now I've got to apologize and make up some ridiculous excuse as to why I didn't. No. That would be lying. Just apologize and get it done. I honestly don't know how I have friends. Maybe this should be an afternoon gym-run day. If I get up now I still have time to make coffee and read and start work by 8. I'll need a break mid-day anyway. A break from what? What the actual !#@* am I doing with my life? What did I write down to do today? I don't even remember. Does any of it even matter? Am I actually making progress? Is my entire career just fading away into oblivion? Am I letting that happen? I should be working harder. Other people are working harder. Much harder. Maybe I should move. No, I can't. I'll pay at least double what I'm paying now and there for sure won't be parking. Omigod I really am going to live in this apartment forever. I can never get a cat. But so many cats need homes. You can't afford the deposit for a cat. Why are you still laying here? Maybe I could be a food stylist in New York? No. I couldn't hack it. I'd go corporate. Maybe that wouldn't be so bad. Maybe check Craigslist later. Okay the gym window is closing. It's now or never. You said you were going to stick to this. That's why you set your alarm. Do you really want to start the day failing? You know you won't go later. Why did I have that milkshake last night? Sugar makes my skin look so tired. Maybe I should get botox. I wonder if it would help my resting bitch face. What if it made it worse? Can they reverse that? Is that why I'm single? Maybe I should start putting my phone away from my bed so the alarm forces me up and out? But what if I needed to check it for something? Then I'd have to get up. That's the point you lazy ass. Get. up. NOW. "
I suppose I could afford to be a little kinder to myself in the mornings, right? Real talk. Probably seems like I'm putting a real damper on these cheery little carrots but trust me there's a happy ending here. For whatever reason, mornings are tough. Not because getting up early is tough. Quite the opposite. Give me 6.5 - 7 hours of sleep a night and I'm awake 10 minutes or so before my alarm goes off at 5:15. I love mornings. But then this happens. Like Alice down the rabbit hole I fall into this spiral of worry, fear, and defeat in my mind over everything from work to relationships to money to the texture of my thighs and the trajectory of my life. There seems to be a place for all of it. And it all seems to descend at once.
I cut this quote by French ballerina Marie-Agnes Gillot out of an Anthropologie magazine of all places awhile back and put it on my fridge: "Discipline is the cornerstone of freedom. Not the opposite." It's so true. How much better do I feel when I'm out of bed and back from the gym by 6:15? Or when I make an intentional plan for my work day and stick to it? Or I keep with my resolution to only check Facebook once a week (or not at all) instead of 3 times a day? But gosh it's so hard breaking out of these ruts and routines we fall in to. The frustration you feel with yourself for not sticking to something is a million times worse than the thing itself too. For as long as I can remember I've been resolving to get up the moment my alarm goes off in order to spare myself from the above dialogue. New habits are hard to form though and procrastination so often wins. Breaking out of a food routine is hard too. I've also been resolving to do that for awhile now. The sheer brainpower required just to come up with something new after a long day at work when your fridge is empty and the last thing you wanna do is run to the store can be too much. You'd pretty much prefer to starve or worse spend $40 on InstaEatsApp for a lukewarm and lackluster meal made out of the garage kitchen of some meal delivery startup and then hate yourself and resolve to a) be better about thinking ahead and b) figure out how to cook. Life is so hard.
I figure if I struggle with this living in the land of seasonal plenty and cooking all day long, other people might really be having a hard time. I mean, maybe. Can you relate? At home I'm prone to making and baking the same things over and over again. Breaking out of routine. Trying new recipes. It can just seem like so much work. But like any habit, once you do it a couple of times you start to get inspired. And you discover new things. And you wonder why you didn't get on this bandwagon a long time ago. It's that first hurdle.
What does all of this have to do with pan-roasted carrots? Well, it's new to me. And I actually made it for myself. Not for a shoot. I conquered the resistance with this one. And that feels so refreshing. Little wins, you guys. Little wins. Now if I could just get on board with my gym habit. And my morning up-and-at-'em goals. I've been eyeing this recipe for awhile, particularly the carrot top pesto part which ended up all over pasta, on crackers with goat cheese, and as the "sauce" on a pizza. This one's worth working into the recipe rut. I'll definitely be making it again.
Pan Roasted Carrots with Carrot Top Pesto
I'm obsessed with this. Never in a million years would I think I'd be buying carrots FOR the tops. But this stuff is so good and because it doesn't oxidize like basil it'll stay green and gorgeous for up to 7 days in the fridge.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Scrub the carrots but don't peel. Cut in half through the middle on a diagonal. Slice each half down the center from top to bottom. Transfer the carrots to a bowl and toss with a generous pinch of kosher salt and enough olive oil to coat. Preheat a large skillet over medium-high. Once it's good and hot add the carrots. Toss and stir for a minute or two. Add the spring onions or shallots and the orange juice. Toss again and transfer the whole skillet to the oven. Roast until the edges become crisp and the carrots are fork tender, 5-7 minutes depending on the size of your carrots
While the carrots roast, make the pesto. Combine the carrot tops, parsley, pumpkin seeds, red pepper flakes, garlic cloves, and coriander in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until evenly chopped. Add the olive oil in a steady stream until the pesto comes together stopping to scrape down the sides at least once. Add the romano, vinegar, lemon zest and juice, reserved orange zest, and a generous pinch of salt and black pepper. Pulse 2-3 more times. Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding additional olive oil a tablespoon full at a time until the consistency is to your liking.
Pull the carrots from the oven. Dollop a heaping quarter cup of pesto onto them and toss to coat. Serve immediately with the remaining pesto.
1 bunch carrots, tops removed, washed and spun dry
5-6 spring onions or one large shallot, sliced
2 cups loosely packed parsley leaves, washed and spun dry
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
juice from half an orange, zest reserved for pesto
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 large cloves garlic, loosely chopped
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/3 cup olive oil, plus more for consistenc
1/4 cup grated pecorino romano cheese
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
zest from 1 lemon
juice from half a lemon
kosher salt and black pepper