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Sauteed Carrots with Chile + Lemon (aka 20 Minute Carrots)
My Favorite Weeknight Veggie Dish
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This week’s recipe is for a dish that I’ve been making a ton this summer. It comes together in about 20 minutes, is super flavorful, and pairs well with so many different things. It’s the perfect weeknight side dish.
This dish is a testament to the use of simple, high-quality ingredients. Carrots get briefly sauteed to soften them and bring out some of their natural sweetness, then they get paired with lemon juice, lemon zest, and chile flakes.
Interestingly, there was a debate on Twitter the other week where some people claimed that chiles in various forms (flakes, sauces, hot sauce, etc) only serve to mask the flavor of bad ingredients with spice. This could not be further from the truth.
If you follow this newsletter, you’ll know that I love chiles. And it’s not just because of their heat. In fact, many chiles aren’t really spicy at all but are full of other flavors— fruitiness, nuttiness, smokiness, etc.
But I’m not the only one. Rene Redzepi of Noma is widely considered one of the greatest chefs alive. His specialty is Nordic cuisine, which has no history of spice or chiles. After spending time in Mexico for his Noma Mexico pop-up, he realized that chile heat plays an important role in balance and composition of a dish and can even be considered a flavor in and of itself. Yotam Ottolenghi, one of my favorite cookbook authors and recipe developers, agrees. Check out the quotes from both below.
I highly encourage you to explore the world of flavor that’s available in chiles, and this recipes is a really great way to do that. There’s a huge difference between your average grocery store red pepper flakes (which have no flavor at all) and good-quality heirloom chile flakes, so seek out something good.
A few of my favorites:
Chile Cobanero (medium-high heat)
Smoked Karatzova Flakes (medium heat)
Calabrian Chile Flakes (medium heat)
Urfa Chile (low heat)
Silk Chile (low heat)
As always, feel free to shoot me a message if you have any questions!
1 bunch of carrots
lemon (juice + zest)
Start by washing and/or peeling your carrots. If the carrots are small, peeling isn’t necessary. I find that it does remove some bitterness, so I’ll usually peel larger carrots.
Cut the carrots into a small dice.
Heat a stainless steel, carbon steel, or cast iron pan over medium heat. Once the pan is heated, add in a few tbsp of olive oil and allow the oil to heat up.
Add the carrots to the pan and cook, tossing or stirring occasionally. Season with salt.
Cook until the carrots soften slightly and become a bit sweet, about 5-10 minutes.
At this point, add a generous sprinkle of chile flakes all over the carrots. Add the zest and juice of 1/2 to 1 lemon, and toss everything to combine.
Taste and adjust as needed with more salt, lemon, or chile flakes.
I’ll often serve these on their own as a side dish, or over a bed of Greek yogurt.
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