Meatless Monday quinoa and carrots

When T and I were in NY whenever that was -2 weeks?- our first meal was a lovely lunch at Gramercy Tavern, the fabulous, storied Danny Meyer establishment near Union Square. Our first meal there, several years ago, was 5 Stars in every way: service; food; wine; memories that have stuck. This recent lunch was less OHMYGOSH but nonetheless lovely. I had a glass of vespaiolo, an Italian white from the Veneto, we shared a warm lobster and potato salad to start and for my main I ordered the grilled carrots with quinoa, pistachios and cremant, a delicious little cheese from Vermont. The uniqueness of the latter dish really made an impression on me, and I've been meaning to try and recreate it since we returned home. Yesterday at the farmers market, I picked up some gorgeous young carrots. This evening in my pantry I saw some red quinoa. And it was off to the races of re-creation. I'd forgotten both that Gramercy's carrots were grilled and that pistachios were involved in the dish; funny enough, I spur-of-the-moment added a handful of the beautiful green nuts, lightly crushed, to my dish tonight. Must have been a sense-memory. And I went with a gentle roast of the carrots because I wanted to concentrate the flavor but retain a definite need for a knife.

Gramercy's carrots had the most delightful shellacking of honey so I started with a combo of olive oil and orange blossom honey for my cooking glaze. In addition, I added the zest of a half orange, a generous sprinkle of kosher salt and some white pepper. Nearly a half hour in the oven, and you could just easily pierce them partway through with a knife: done!

In the meantime, I'd cooked the red quinoa in some vegetable broth, letting it steam off heat towards the end. Currently, I find myself obsessed with fresh thyme so made a garlic-olive oil-thyme pistou to drizzle over the finished dish and then considered the pistachios.

Lastly, Gramercy's quinoa had a wonderful risotto-like creaminess and so to mimic that, I whisked some crème fraîche with the cooking liquid left in the pan and then stirred that into my steamed baby Saturns (have you noticed just how much cooked quinoa resembles a bunch of ringed planets?!). Even T, skeptical vegetarian he is forced to be on Mondays, truly enjoyed this dish.

And as our side, baked ricotta smeared with radicchio jam from that insanely appealing Italian shop I went wild in in NYC.