In celebration of two birthdays, I decided to prepare something of an involved dinner. I began at 2 p.m., we sat to eat around 6:30. It wasn’t that it was an overly difficult meal to prepare, but it was one that required quite a bit of thinking and on-the-spot trial and error.
I know. What was I thinking? I should have gone with something a bit more predictable. But, no – it was time for a culinary challenge.
The main ingredients for this meal were one rack of lamb, carrots butternut squash, a red bell pepper, onions, peso and linguini.
Side story: I wanted to prepare a carrot mash with scallops, and then realized one of my guests did not eat shellfish. Bummer. At the last minute, I opted for charred shallots instead. But believing the carrot purée – or carrot mash – would be to mild, I wound up packing it with all sorts of yummy goodness.
So, when making a carrot mash it seems the standard or well-established approach is to try and capture the essence of cumin. I did add cumin, but not much of it. Instead, I packed the puree with garlic, onion, Parmesan cheese, cilantro and Italian parsley with a tiny bit of milk and some olive oil. Overkill?
I prefer the Italian parsley, which was an excellent idea here because it has a sharper, more prominent – read: pungent – flavor than the standard parsley you find at the grocery store.
The method: I prepared the rack for a four-hour marinade – olive oil, salt and pepper with fresh rosemary and lemon. Somewhat predictable, yes.
I then roasted about seven carrots along with the butternut squash and one red bell pepper (should have used two of these) for about 45 minutes or so. This left the carrots with a nice charring that I thought I would soon regret, but never did. The squash had to roast for about another 15 minutes. Then, I let everything cool until I could handle them without having to use kitchen mittens.
*tee hee, funny word, “mittens”*
Then, I seared the rack of lamb before I put it in the oven to roast for about 20 minutes. I might have left it in for about an additional 10 minutes. It was medium rare, which was fantastic, but I wanted it to be a little less red and more pinkish. Ah well. It had a nice, full flavor. But the rosemary was so subtle. That was odd, because I cut up two sprigs, which I thought would be plenty.
At this point, I began boiling the linguini. I would later toss it with the pesto and chopped walnuts.
I then pulled out the food processor. I had to process everything in batches because the yield was huge. In with the carrots, red bell pepper, squash, cheese and herbs. After processing, I set a pot with olive oil on the stove, cooking the chopped onions until they became pearly. I then added the garlic. When the garlic became fragrant, I added the puree. I ended up having to add more of everything to create a strong and delicious flavor.
It turned out well. I could tell because everyone wanted seconds. That’s always the best complement. And I am pleased with the mash! I cannot wait to try that one again. Maybe adding other vegetables and herbs to fill out the color and flavor.