Monday, August 8, 2011

Carrot Fritters with Parsnip-Vanilla Bean Sauce, Beet oil and Fried Capers

Even though it is technically summer, here in the Northwest, the weather has shown otherwise and I find myself drawing more towards roots and fall produce. The other day I found beet root powder at Whole Foods and excitedly bought a small packet of it. The color was so bright and pink and I found myself fascinated with the idea of using this is something...anything..but what? I thought and thought and I just had no idea. Sooner or later I decided to first try it as an oil, lightly drizzled over my dinner consisting of carrots and parnsips, both things I knew already went well with whole beets.

Carrot-sweet potato fritters served over creamy parsnip sauce with a hint of vanilla bean, crisp tangy caper berries and bright beet oil.

Carrot Fritters
Chilling the fritters before frying is crucial to keeping their shape. The result is a surprisingly creamy inside with a crisp outer edge. Carrot haters will not be able to turn their noses to these delightfully savory patties.

1 lb carrots, peeled, cut in thirds
5 oz sweet potato, peeled, cut into large chunks
2 tbl minced red onions
2 tbl fresh chopped cilantro
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 cup ap flour, plus more for dusting
3 tbl chickpea flour
3 tbl panko breadcrumbs
1/4 tsp baking soda
vegetable oil for frying
2 tbl capers

Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add the carrots and sweet potato and boil for 5 minutes until they just start to soften. Drain and use a food processor to grate both. Combine in a bowl with the red onions, cilantro, salt and pepper. Add 1/4 cup flour, chickpea flour, breadcrumbs and baking soda. Form into small patties, dredge the outside in the remaining flour and freeze for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 325.
Fill a pan 1/4" up the way with oil. Bring to 350 degrees. Pan fry until golden brown on both sides. Drain any excess oil then place on a baking sheet and pop in the oven for 15 minutes to continue cooking the inside. Fry the capers in the same oil for 1-2 minutes until crispy. Drain and sprinkle with sea salt.

Parsnip Vanilla Sauce/Soup
This combination of savory parsnip and fragrant vanilla bean surprised even myself. The scraped bean seeds perfumed the roots gently and added just a touch of sweetness. I used this as a sauce but it would be great as a soup. Double the recipe if you want to enjoy a few bowls.

2 tbl extra virgin olive oil
1 small white onion, small dice
1 leek, white part only, small dice
1 celery stalk, small dice
1/2 tsp salt
pinch white pepper
3 parsnips, small dice
1 cup water
3/4 cup vegetable broth
1 cup coconut milk
1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped

Sweat the onions, leeks, celery, salt and pepper in oil over medium heat until soft and fragrant. Make sure not to brown the vegetables. Add the parsnips and water. Boil and cook until the parsnips are fork tender. Transfer to a blender and puree until smooth. Transfer back to the pot and add the vegetable broth, coconut milk and vanilla bean. Simmer for 10 minutes. Taste and season.

Beet Root Oil
2 tsp beet root powder
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Toast the beet root powder in a dry pan for 1-2 minutes. Add the oil and remove from heat. Let sit and bring to room temperature.

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