The act of preparing food is a highly multisensory experience. While taste may be the predominant sense in mind when selecting ingredients to pair and flavors to layer, each of our senses plays a key role in the makings of a meal, no matter how complex or simple. Smell is the telltale sign of a perfectly baked brownie or a sadly charred piece of bread. Touch, not only on our hands but all throughout our mouth, is what makes biting into a crisp apple or crackly meringue so satisfying. The sounds of clanging pots and sizzling oil are my comforting soundtrack after a long day. Sight is what attracts us to food both up close and at a distance. The most simple breakfast of toast can be elevated to something special when placed on a beautiful plate and surrounded by bright orange slices. It is this final sense that most inspired my cooking last week. I was moseying around the produce section of the grocery store when a dazzling display of rainbow carrots caught my eye. I’d seen white and yellow carrots before, but these—as advertised—covered the whole spectrum. I giddily picked one of each hue and made my way home.
Each carrot harbored a surprise inside. The green one had a lemony yellow center. The red had a horseradish tang. My favorite was the purple one, with a strong amethyst rim and a bright orange center, reminding me of my favorite Disney dragon. I was sated merely by looking at this colorful array. In an attempt to not mar their natural beauty, I roasted them for just twenty minutes to bring out a bit of sweetness and softness. I tossed them with a bright dressing of lime juice, honey, pomegranate molasses, and cumin, and a heaping handful of chopped parsley. To give it some lunchtime bulk I added some cooked couscous and chick peas. In the midst of a busy day in the O.R., pulling out this dazzling lunchtime display literally brightened my day.
As you shop, cook, and eat, I hope you challenge yourself to see, taste, smell, feel, and hear food in new ways and allow your kitchen to be a playground for your senses.
Rainbow Carrots with Lime Dressing
6 carrots, peeled and sliced into 1/4 inch thick coins
3 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 500F. Toss carrots with olive oil and a healthy sprinkling of salt and pepper and arrange on a cookie sheet. Roast for 20-25 minutes, stirring halfway through, until carrots are slightly soft but still retain a bite.
3 limes, juiced
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp honey
2 tsp pomegranate molasses
1/4 tsp cumin
1/3 cup chopped parsley
salt and pepper to taste
Whisk dressing ingredients together. Set aside.
Toss roasted carrots with dressing. If desired, combine with 1 cup of cooked couscous and 1 can of drained chickpeas (or any other grains or beans that strike your fancy). Dried cranberries or toasted almonds would also be great additions.