Moroccan Spices and Carrot Puree get rid of a February funk.

All work and no play has made me a dull girl. At least I feel that is the way I have been cooking lately. Long days at work, six days a week, and barely any time at home gets old. Our days in Seattle have been overcast and chilly which does not seem to help. I need some time to regroup, time to nap…maybe just time? February is an odd month at the farmers markets as well. There are bountiful loads of greens, root veggies, and apples are still looking & tasting great. But what else is there? I feel like my rut in life had followed me into the kitchen. I wanted to make something a bit different, something that would liven up our senses with excitement. I started to think of a dish I made last year this time when I was feeling the same way.  It is a carrot puree with olives in it that is 100% deliciousness.  I first read about this dish in Gourmet magazine years ago and I have adapted the recipe into more of my own. What makes it fantastic is the lovely earthy natural sweetness shines through and blends with the olive’s briny flavor. The only problem is that we couldn’t eat the carrot puree all on its own. (Okay, yes I could, but that is not a complete meal.)

Moroccan Spiced Chicken with Carrot Puree and Olives

I thought about the how the briny olives compliment the sweetness of the carrot and how it is similar to what you see in Moroccan cooking. I thought about all of the stewed dishes that are sweet, spicy, and salty through olives and preserved items. Inspired by this, I picked up some chicken and did a little Moroccan spice infused blood orange marinade. After the chicken was marinated and roasted in the oven I served it up with the carrot puree. Brian was pleased, and was more than happy when he learned that there was more than enough for leftovers!  I am sure anyone who is willing to try this will enjoy it. Hopefully you will find it as lively and awakening as we did. Just what a winter meal called for.

Moroccan Spiced Chicken (Serve 4)

Chicken thighs and legs (about 5-6 of each)

1 tsp of cinnamon

1 tsp of coriander

½ tsp of cayenne pepper

2 blood oranges; zest of both and slice one for marinade and reserve the other for garnish

Kosher salt and black pepper to taste

¼ cup of olive oil

First; in a bowl big enough to fit all your chicken place your cinnamon, coriander, cayenne pepper, blood orange zest, salt & pepper to taste, with your olive oil and mix it all together. Place your chicken and orange slices in the same bowl and toss it all together coating the chicken with your spice mix and oranges. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour or even overnight.

Next, preheat your oven to 400 degrees. When your oven is heated place your marinated chicken pieces along with the orange slices evenly on a sheet pan. Sprinkle with a bit more of your kosher salt and place it in the oven for roughly 40 minutes (stirring it half way through cooking). You are looking for the chicken skin to be a bit crispy and the chicken to be cooked through.

Finally, Remove from the oven and let rest about 5 minutes. Place on a platter and serve along with the carrot puree. Chicken is also good at room temperature and makes great leftovers. I also use the extra blood orange to cut segments and serve with the chicken. Also, parsley goes well with this plate.

**NOTE: if you do not have blood oranges, a regular orange will work just fine.

Carrot Puree with Olives

Carrot Puree with Olive (serves 4)

2 lbs. of carrots; peeled, trimmed, and chopped into ½ inch pieces

½ a red onion, chopped

2 cloves of garlic, trimmed

1 cup of dry white wine

1 tbsp of kosher salt

½ cup of pitted olives, preferably kalamata or oil cured; chopped

First; place your carrots in a four quart pot along with your red onion, garlic, white wine, and kosher salt.  I add enough water to this mixture to cover it all.

Next, place your pot over medium to high and let it all simmer together until you carrots are tender when pierced. (About 20 minutes.) Strain the veggies out of the pot reserving the liquid. Place your carrots, onions, & garlic in the bowl of a food processor. Puree a bit adding some of the reserved liquid a bit at a time until your mixture is smooth without being runny.

Finally, place your mixture in a bowl and stir in your chopped olives and serve. Can be made ahead of time and reheated upon serving.