If you get a veg box at this time of year, one of the things you might find in it is bunched carrots complete with their leafy green tops. Treated right, these are quite delicious, so it's a shame to throw them away if they arrive in good condition. My go-to recipe is Riverford's carrot top pesto, but my friend Lalli suggested something quite different on one of our recent CTC rides together: adding the carrot tops to a lentil dal. Here is the recipe she related to me.
1 bunch carrot tops, finely chopped
2 cups red lentils
1 onion, finely chopped
1" fresh ginger, peeled and grated
2 cloves garlic, crushed or grated
1 red chilli, finely chopped
1 tomato, cut into small dice
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp ground coriander
salt and black pepper
a few sorrel leaves, finely sliced
Start by rinsing the carrot tops in two changes of water, then pick the leaves, discarding the tough stems. Chop very finely. I ended up with about 1 1/2 cups of carrot tops once they were prepared.
Rinse the lentils, place in a saucepan, and add enough water to cover. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook for 20 minutes.
While the lentils are cooking, heat the oil in a frying pan. When it is almost smoking, add the cumin seeds and let them pop. Then reduce the heat and add the onions, giving them a good stir. Adding salt at this stage will draw some water out of the onions and help them to cook without burning. Give the onions a few minutes head-start before adding the ginger, garlic and chilli. Give everything another good stir and cook for a further 2-3 minutes before adding the ground spices. When the onions are soft, stir in the diced tomato and let it all cook gently until the lentils are done.
When the lentils have been cooking for 20 minutes, add the carrot tops and let them simmer together for another 5 minutes. Add the spiced onions and tomato to the lentils, and stir in the sorrel leaves. The sorrel adds a little bitterness; if you don't have any to hand, you could add a squeeze of lemon instead. Check the seasoning and it's ready to serve!
I served mine with some plain boiled rice, but this would also make an excellent side dish as part of a bigger meal.
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