maple carrots, white beans and spicy greens with warm orange vinaigrette


So recently, our oven broke. I discovered this while attempting to cure a hankering for kale chips which, after an hour in the oven, were limp and oddly chewy. Tragic, I know. And yes, I probably should have noticed after about twenty minutes seeing as a four hundred degree oven + 1 hour + kale would ordinarily result in an unidentifiable source of burnt.

Nonetheless, despite my lack of observation on this particular afternoon, broken it was. With a bounty of squash to be roasted, including a massive cheese pumpkin, and a unseasonal but enormous pile of tomatoes taking up our refrigerator, a broken oven is a sad, sad day. Even sadder when you find out that parts need to be ordered, which will take at least a week, if not more.

And of course, I'd never had a stronger urge to bake something. Like scones.

When it came time to do something for dinner, soggy kale chips tossed aside, I realized just how much I actually use my oven. Every day, actually. Even in the summer. Whether I've got a coffee cake to bake or some veggies to roast, a no-oven dinner in our house is a rarity. Pasta night, maybe. Or tacos. Even then, we've made exceptions.

So I decided to make a version of a dish I had been thinking over, forgoing the use of my oven, relying solely on my four working burners, the silver lining in this disaster.

For this stovetop dinner, you will need:

8-10 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
2 tablespoons of butter or vegan margarine
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1/2 cup white cannellini beans, cooked
3 cups of sturdy salad greens (can be a mix, chard, kale, whatever you prefer)
The juice of one orange
2 teaspoons olive oil
Salt and pepper
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/8 red onion, sliced as thinly as possible
2 tablespoons walnuts, chopped
2 tablespoons golden raisins
2 cups prepared grain of choice

A note on the grain: I went with a long grain brown jasmine rice. I find that fragrant rice is a favorite, but also tends to pair well with the flavors used here. I cooked this with a palmful of fennel seeds, salt, olive oil and a teaspoon of ras el hanout spice, a blend of cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, coriander and nutmeg. "Ras el hanout" translates to "head of shop" which implies that it is the best that the shop owner has to over. Because of this, the combination of flavors will vary, but it's traditionally meant to pair well with rice.

While your rice or other grain is simmering, get some water boiling in a small-medium stock pot. Once it's reached a boil, add your chopped carrots and cook for 5-8 minutes or until soft enough to spear with a fork. Drain immediately. Return your pot to the stove and reduce the heat to medium-low. Add your butter (or margarine), maple syrup and a dash of salt and pepper. Add your carrots back to the pot and stir until coated. Add your white beans, reduce the heat the low and cover.

In a small bowl, whisk together your orange juice, olive oil, paprika, cumin, salt and pepper. In a small pan over low heat, using just a touch of olive oil, sauté your onions for about 1 minute, just enough to get them softened and take away a little bit of their bite. Add your walnuts and raisins and stir together for another minute. Pour in your dressing and stir together until just warm. Quickly pour the warm dressing over your greens and toss together. Inside tip: use a bowl that's decently larger than you think you'll need. The dressing will help to wilt down the greens, but more space is best.

To serve, add some rice to the bottom of wide bowls. Top with carrots, beans, a little extra sauce (if any remains) and top with your warm salad greens.

Honestly, I had some doubts. Things were coming together, things were smelling good and tasting right, but I thought, "What could replace the beauty of a roasted carrot?" Not many things, I tell you, but maybe, just maybe, some bitter greens and maple syrup could do the trick: such a win.

Update: our oven has since been fixed. Hooray! Our super kind handyman, after saying parts had to be ordered, uncovered a forgotten spare and came back the next day. For this, I am grateful. Speaking of gratitude, check out The Gratefulness Project to take on a 30-day challenge towards thankfulness.