Green chile herby carrots

Spring makes me think of wee lambs gambolling across clover-filled fields which then makes me think of adorable bunnies (second only to lambs in the cuteness category) and from there my mind leaps into the vegetable world and ends up at carrots. Because rabbits eat carrots, right? Only they don’t. A quick search of the ‘ole world wide web and I learned rabbits should eat mainly hay or grass (yawn). It turns out the whole carrot thing is a myth.

Sigh. What next? No Santa Claus?

I stubbornly stick on carrots and figure that if rabbits aren’t eating them, then there is probably a glut of them. Which means it’s our responsibility at Chile Trail HQ to get cooking. Carrots are naturally sweet (thus the no-no for rabbits) and are a partner for just about everything except the kitchen sink.

For something fresh and suitably spring-like, we’ve paired it with a heady blend of herbs, nuts, seeds, some toasted sourdough bread and last, but certainly not least, chile. The ingredients are whizzed up into a crumbly mixture that is a joy with carrots — any veg for that matter — or on top of eggs, a piece of fish or chicken. It’s so versatile that you’ll be dabbing a bit behind your ear and calling it eau d’ spring.

Green chile herby carrots

Serves 4 as a side dish

1 bunch carrots, about 1 lb.

1 thick slice of sourdough bread, toasted

3 Tbsp. roughly chopped walnuts

1 Tbsp. pumpkin seeds (pepitas)

1/4 cup roughly chopped dill

1/4 cup roughly chopped fresh mint leaves

1/2 lemon zest only

2 tsp. Hatch green chile flakes

4-5 Tbsp olive oil

Sea salt

To garnish:


Pumpkin seeds

Hatch green chile flakes

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Peel and slice the carrots lengthwise into halves or quarters, depending on the size of the carrots. Place them in an ovenproof casserole dish, drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive oil over them, along with a healthy sprinkile of sea salt. Give them a toss to coat and place them in the oven for around 20-25 minutes, until cooked through and golden.

While the carrots are cooking, place the walnuts, pumpkins seeds and Hatch green chile flakes in a small frying pan. Toast over medium heat for several minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. Tear the sourdough bread into chunks and blitz in a small blender with the nuts, seeds, chile, dill, mint, lemon zest and around 3 tablespoons of olive oil. It should form a rough and grainy paste that can be crumbled over the carrots. Add a bit more oil if needed.

Remove the carrots from the oven and place on a serving dish. Spoon some of the herby mixture over the carrots and garnish with more walnuts, pumpkin seeds, and chile flakes. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Grilled asparagus with mozzarella and red chile-honey dressing

Sharing is seriously overrated. Sure, it looks good on paper. It’s the ‘right’ thing to do. And be honest, how many times have you told your kids to share the toys/computer game/remote control and ‘play nicely’? 

But sometimes it’s a whole lot more fun to have a party where only three invitations go out: me, myself, and I. No sharing that stellar bottle of wine. No fear that when you offer a guest first dibs from your box of chocolates that they’ll end up with your favorite dark chocolate with caramel and sea salt, while you get stuck with the weird one with the pink filling that tastes like the perfume your Granny used to wear. 

There is no better argument for not sharing than a bunch of asparagus, especially if you’re lucky enough to get your hands on some thick, fat stalks. Sure, you could divide them in half and give your dining companion three or even four, if you’re feeling like a martyr. But how much better to hog them for yourself. Add a ball of fresh mozzarella, a chile-honey dressing and go for it.

No sharing. No ‘Honestly, you have the last one. I couldn’t eat another bite.’ No holier than thou moment. And when you’re done, crack open that box of chocolates. Go on – you know you want to. 

Serves one (or two if you’re feeling friendly)

One bunch of asparagus – about 6 fat spears

One ball of mozzarella – buffalo or burrata if you won the lottery

3 Tbsp. vegetable oil + extra for grilling the asparagus

1 – 1 ½ Tbsp. rice wine vinegar

1 tsp runny honey

¼ – ½ tsp Chile de arbol – Cayenne powder

¼ tsp sea salt

Chile caribe to garnish 

Note: some folks like to snap off the end of their asparagus but we think you lose too much. Instead, trim the end and then take a vegetable peeler and shave off some of the outer woody bit. It will be nice and tender. Promise. 

Add a couple of inches of water to a frying pan that is large enough to hold the asparagus in a single layer. Bring the water to a boil, add a generous spoonful of salt and the asparagus. Cover and steam for 2 to 3 minutes or until you can insert a knife easily into the base of the stalk. Gently place the asparagus into a wide colander and rinse with ice cold water to cool them down. Set the asparagus on some paper towels to dry them off.

Heat your grill to medium-hot. (You can also do this inside on a grill pan if the weather isn’t cooperating.) While the grill is heating up, make the dressing. Whisk together the oil, rice wine vinegar, honey, chile and salt. Taste and add more chile and/or salt as needed. 

Brush the asparagus with some oil and place on the hot grill. Turn the spears about every thirty seconds to get nice grill marks all around the spears. Remove from the grill. Place the mozzarella on a plate, place the spears around it, and drizzle over the dressing. Sprinkle with some chile caribe.