Green quinoa + roasted carrots

It all started on a quest for a good burger. I was tagging along with my mom and a friend in Marin a few weeks ago and thought it'd be no problem to get some grass-fed, good quality beef. I tend to get to know a place by having a list of restaurants to try out and this was no different. I had a top choice, two backups, and a brunch spot; I google mapped each one. The first one was closed. Ugh! Onto number two. It was closed too upon first arrival! Although it reopened and turned out to be one of the worst burgers I've eaten in a long time. Which forced me to try and redeem the burger craving in the third restaurant where the burger was meh.  

You're probably thinking: she's rambling about burgers and I'm looking at carrots. Which brings me to the fourth restaurant-the final straw on my restaurant list. Not a burger place, but a small cafe with a simple brunch menu, French pastries and artisan breads. I ordered a breakfast salad (one has to balance the meat), but there were so many things on the menu that were intriguing, including a green couscous bowl that included mint, cilantro, arugula, pistachios and roasted carrot. That list of ingredients sounded so perfect together that I couldn't get it out of my mind. So, from MH Bread and Butter in San Anselmo, I bring you my take on the salad I never ate, but did capture my taste buds and promises to be way more of a success than my dissapointing burger quest. 

Green quinoa + roasted carrots
serves 2 full plate salads or 4 smaller portions

I used April Bloomfield's technique on the carrots from her book A Girl and Her Pig. The recipe calls for toasting and grinding the spices fresh. This gives a lot of flavor, but you could use ground spices in the same quantities to make life a bit easier. 

1 bunch of young carrots (about 15) with 1/2 inch of green top reserved, not peeled
3/4 tsp cumin seeds
1/4 tsp coriander seeds
1/4 tsp red chili flakes
2 TBS extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, peeled
sea salt

Green quinoa: 
2 cups cooked quinoa
4 large handfuls of arugula
1/2 cup cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
1/4 cup mint leaves, roughly torn
1/4 cup pistachios, roughly chopped
1 orange (before cutting, get zest--see dressing below)

Dressing:
2 TBS orange juice
1 TBS lemon juice
zest of 1 orange
1 shallot, minced
3 TBS extra virgin olive oil
sea salt

Preheat oven to 400'. Start by trimming the carrots and giving them a good wash if there's visible dirt. Lay out to dry. Meanwhile, toast cumin and coriander seed in a warm skillet until fragrant. Let cool and grind. Reserve. In a mortar and pestle, grind the garlic to a paste with a few good pinches of salt. (You can also do this on your cutting board by roughly chopping the garlic, sprinkling with salt and mashing with the tines of a fork). In a large bowl, combine garlic paste, spices, olive oil, red chili flakes and carrots and toss to coat well. Transfer to baking dish being sure to get all the oily goodness over the carrots. Add a tablespoon of water to a corner of the pan and cover with aluminum. Cook for 15 minutes. Uncover and cook another 15 minutes until golden and tender, but not falling apart. 

Make the dressing by combining shallot, citrus juices, and orange zest in a small bowl with a pinch of salt. Let sit 10-15 minutes. Drizzle in olive oil and give it a good whisk. Taste for seasoning. 

To prepare the orange, trim off ends so that it sits flat. Run your knife around the orange, from top to bottom, to remove the skin and white pith. You'll now have a "naked orange." Cut cross wise into large circles. Then slice into small triangles/chunks. Put in a large bowl with arugula, quinoa, and herbs. Toss with dressing. Transfer to platter and top with carrots, being sure to scrape out the toasted bits that have accumulated in the pan. Garnish with pistachios.