The plating of this simple, yet sophisticated, starter is really what sets it apart. Take the time to place each component with love, and use a large dinner plate instead of a salad plate to fully appreciate the presentation. Your guests will appreciate it. We paired with an apple, citrus and touch of cream filled Chardonnay from Jordan Winery in Sonoma, really melding with the caramelized carrots, fresh pesto and creamy mozarella. A light and crisp Sauvignon Blanc would also work, like one from Ladera or Merryvale.
Roasted Carrots with Spinach and Arugula Pesto
8 large carrots, tops and ends removed and peeled
Salt and pepper
1 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
2 cloves garlic, minced
8 ounces mixed arugula and spinach
1 bunch fresh basil
2 ounces Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon pine nuts
Juice of 2 lemons
Splash Champagne or other white wine vinegar
8 ounces fresh Bocconcini mozarella, we used two different sizes but whatever you can find
sunflower seeds or pepitos
Fresh dill, parsley or cilantro – torn for garnish, optional
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut Carrots in half right in the middle. Then again lengthwise. Cut the larger top half of the carrot in half again lengthwise so you should have 6 pieces from 1 carrot. Each plate will get 6 of these pieces. Toss carrots in a bowl with 1 clove of minced garlic, a splash of vinegar, 1 teaspoon each salt and pepper and the garam masala. Lay them on a baking sheet in an even layer and roast until tender in the oven. About 20 minutes then remove from oven and let cool slightly.
Meanwhile add the spinach, arugula, basil, pine nuts, parm, juice of 1 lemon, 1/2 cup olive oil and a dash each of salt and pepper to a blender on low speed. Pulse a few times to combine then turn on medium high to blend the pesto. Add more oil if you need more to get your blender started. Pour into a squeeze bottle to drizzle on the carrots easily. When the carrots have cooled a bit plate 6 individual carrot pieces on a plate, in whatever decoration you like. Sprinkle a few Bocconcini balls around the plate. Add a sprinkle of seeds. Take the remaining lemon and give a gentle squeeze over the plate just to add a touch of acid right before serving. Drizzle the plate with the pesto and garnish with fresh dill, parsley or cilantro.