This Whipped Feta with Date Molasses Caramelized Carrots is a truly delightful and heartwarming recipe that has become a cherished favourite in my kitchen. This recipe is not only a feast for the eyes but also a symphony of flavours that will dance on your taste buds.
This dish celebrates the beauty of using every part of the carrot – from the root to the leaf – and pairs it with the rich creaminess of whipped feta and the nutty notes of pistachio. The Carrot Top & Pistachio Pesto, made with 115g of fresh carrot leaves, garlic, pistachios, Gran Padano cheese, and a hint of chilli flakes, lemon juice, and zest, is a delightful blend of ingredients that will breathe life into this dish. Its smooth texture and intense flavour will have you reaching for seconds in no time.
The Caramelized Carrots add a touch of sweetness to the dish, as they are gently cooked in butter, date molasses, and lemon juice, and seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper. The combination of the tender, slightly sweet carrots and the rich, tangy molasses create a beautiful harmony that perfectly complements the other components of the dish.
Finally, the Whipped Feta is the pièce de résistance, made with a blend of creamy Philadelphia Cream Cheese and crumbly feta cheese, with just a drizzle of olive oil to bring it all together. This luscious, velvety component adds a touch of indulgence to the dish, making it truly unforgettable.
As you gather your ingredients and begin to prepare this dish, take a moment to appreciate the vibrant colors and flavors that make it so special. This recipe is not just a culinary creation, but also a testament to the power of food to bring warmth, joy, and connection to our lives. So, let’s get cooking and create some memorable moments around the table, as we share this beautiful and delicious meal with our loved ones. Bon appétit!
Basic Ingredients for Whipped Feta with Date Molasses Caramelized Carrots
Carrot Leaves: The often-overlooked tops of carrots add a fresh, slightly bitter flavor that contrasts beautifully with the sweetness of the caramelized carrots. They also provide a nutritious and eco-friendly way to use the entire carrot in this recipe.
Garlic Cloves: Garlic lends depth and a savory, pungent taste to the Carrot Top & Pistachio Pesto, complementing the other flavors and enhancing the overall richness of the dish.
Pistachios: These subtly sweet and buttery nuts provide a delightful crunch and nuttiness to the pesto, while also contributing a lovely green hue to the dish.
Gran Padano Cheese: This Italian hard cheese adds a salty, umami depth to the pesto, as well as a subtle sharpness that balances the other flavors and ties the pesto together.
Salt, Black Pepper and Chili Flakes: These seasonings enhance and draw out the natural flavors of the ingredients while adding a mild kick to the pesto.
Lemon Juice and Zest: The bright, tangy citrus notes from the lemon add a refreshing and vibrant taste to the pesto, lifting the overall flavor profile of the dish.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil: This essential component of the pesto not only binds the ingredients together but also lends a smooth, velvety texture and a fruity, peppery undertone.
Baby Carrots: The star of this dish, baby carrots offer a tender, sweet, and slightly earthy taste that pairs exceptionally well with the other components, especially when caramelized with date molasses.
Butter: Used for caramelizing the carrots, butter imparts a rich, creamy, and slightly nutty flavor, while also enhancing the natural sweetness of the carrots.
Date Molasses: This natural sweetener adds a deep, fruity sweetness to the caramelized carrots, creating a unique and delightful flavor combination with the butter and lemon juice.
Philadelphia Cream Cheese: This creamy, smooth cheese forms the base for the whipped feta, providing a luxurious mouthfeel and a mild, tangy taste that complements the sharper feta cheese.
Feta Cheese: The key ingredient in the whipped feta, this salty, tangy, and crumbly Greek cheese adds a bold, contrasting flavor to the dish, perfectly balancing the sweetness of the caramelized carrots and the nuttiness of the pesto.
Olive Oil: Drizzled into the whipped feta, olive oil enhances the creamy texture and adds a hint of fruity, peppery flavor, rounding out the dish and tying all the elements together.
Carrot Top & Pistachio Pesto
Spinach or Kale: If you can’t find carrot leaves, substitute with spinach or kale for a similar green, fresh flavor.
Walnuts or Almonds: Swap out pistachios with walnuts or almonds for a different nutty taste and texture.
Pecorino Romano or Parmesan Cheese: Replace Gran Padano cheese with Pecorino Romano or Parmesan for a slightly different salty, umami kick.
Lime Juice and Zest: For a citrus twist, try using lime juice and zest instead of lemon.
Maple Syrup or Honey: Substitute date molasses with maple syrup or honey for a different type of natural sweetness.
Olive Oil or Coconut Oil: If you’d like to avoid butter, use olive oil or coconut oil for caramelizing the carrots. Keep in mind that coconut oil will impart a slight coconut flavor to the dish.
Ricotta Cheese: For a milder whipped cheese, replace the feta with ricotta. This will result in a smoother and less tangy flavor.
GoatCheese: Swap out feta for goat cheese if you prefer its creamy, tangy taste.
Neufchâtel cheese: Replace Philadelphia Cream Cheese with Neufchâtel cheese for a slightly lighter, less rich texture.
Avocado Oil: If you’d like a different oil for the whipped feta, consider using avocado oil for its mild, buttery flavor and velvety texture.
- Wash the carrot leaves thoroughly to remove any dirt or grit. Pat them dry before using to ensure a smooth and vibrant pesto.
- To get the most juice out of your lemon, roll it firmly on the countertop with your palm before cutting and squeezing.
- Toast the pistachios briefly in a dry pan over medium heat to enhance their flavor and aroma. Let them cool before adding to the pesto.
- When caramelizing the carrots, keep an eye on the heat to prevent the date molasses from burning. Adjust the heat as necessary to achieve an even caramelization.
- Store the Carrot Top & Pistachio Pesto in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week. Pour a thin layer of olive oil over the top before sealing to help preserve its freshness.
- Keep the caramelized carrots in a separate airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days.
- Store the whipped feta in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week.
- When you’re ready to enjoy the leftovers, let the whipped feta and pesto come to room temperature for optimal flavor and texture. Reheat the caramelized carrots gently in a pan over low heat or in the microwave before serving.
Whipped Feta with Date Molasses Caramelized Carrots
Carrot Top & Pistachio Pesto
- 115 g carrot leaves
- 3 large garlic cloves
- ½ cup pistachio
- ⅔ cup gran padano cheese, grated
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp black pepper, freshly ground
- ½ tsp chili flakes
- 1 lemon juice
- 1 lemon zest
- ⅔ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 500 g baby carrots
- 2 tbsp butter
- 2 tbsp date molasses
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- black pepper, freshly ground
- 200 g philadelphia cream cheese
- 100 g feta cheese
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius. Clean and trim carrots, leaving some of the stem attached. Reserved the carrot top aside for pesto.
- In a saucepan, on low heat, melt butter and stir in the date molasses lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Place carrots on a large baking sheet. Pour over the glaze and toss until coated. Roast for 20 to 30 minutes (adjust timing to the size of carrots) until caramelized and glazed.
- In a food processor, add carrot top leaves, garlic, pistachio, Gran Padano cheese, salt, black pepper, chilli flakes, lemon juice and lemon zest; blend ingredients together until they are finely minced. On slow speed, gradually add the extra virgin olive oil and process until it reaches a smooth consistency.
- In a food processor, add the cream cheese, feta cheese and olive oil, and pulse until smooth and creamy.
- Spoon the whipped cheese into a serving platter. Gently toss the carrots with a copy tablespoon of the carrot top pesto and serve over the whipped feta, and finally top with a drizzle and then top carrots, drizzle the sauce on top, and finally, top with a dribble of carrot top pesto. Garnish with pistachio chilli flakes and fresh mint leaves