These carrots are a nod towards smoked salmon and such a creative way to recreate that uniquely smokey salty flavour in a plant-based way. There is something so exciting about working out how to reimagine anything just using good, honest in-season vegetables. It’s a real showstopper for a weekend brunch with friends and a great meal if you decide to make a big batch and enjoy in several portions throughout the week, tossing the carrots through salads or cooking in stir-fries.
Time: 2.5 hours, plus overnight fermentation
Photography: Sara Kiyo Popowa
Food Styling: Lauren Lovatt
2 nori sheets
3 large carrots, peeled, topped and tailed
3 tbsp smoked salt
3 tbsp smoked paprika
2 whole star anise
½ cup kelp or dulse flakes
150–200ml olive oil
Cultured pancake batter
260g buckwheat flour or chickpea flour
480ml filtered water
Olive or coconut oil, for frying
1 tbsp charcoal and 1 tsp miso
Cultured cashew cream
250g cashews, soaked for 4 hours and rinsed
100ml filtered water
2 tbsp live kombucha or 1 tsp probiotic powder
200g walnuts, soaked far at least 1 hour, then rinsed well
1 tbsp rosemary leaves, finely chopped
2 tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp olive oil
½ tbsp lion’s mane mushroom powder (optional)
¼ tsp salt
Handful of washed green leaves
Make the cultured pancake batter and cashew cream a day ahead. To make the pancake batter, blend the flour with the filtered water in a food processor or blender and then transfer to a large bowl. Leave in an ambient place overnight, making sure to cover the container with a cloth to make sure nothing unwanted gets inside. The next morning, check that there is a light bubble in your batter. If so, it’s ready to use. In this time the mixture probably won’t over-ferment but if there are no bubbles you may need to leave it for a little longer. Stir through the charcoal and miso.
To make the cashew cream, blend the cashews with the water in a food processor or blender until silky smooth, with absolutely no lumps. If this takes a little time and the mixture gets hot, leave it to cool before moving onto the next step. Blend the smooth cashews once more with the kombucha or probiotic powder and pulse to combine. Place the mixture in a glass jar or bowl and cover with a cloth tied with a string. Leave somewhere warm overnight to ferment. The next day, you will see some bubbles appear and the mixture should smell lightly fermented in a good way. If nothing has happened, it may need a little longer until you can see the fermentation process has happened.
To make the rosemary walnuts, preheat the oven to 150°C fan (170°C/Gas 3). Place the walnuts in a bowl, mix with the other ingredients and set aside while the oven preheats. Spread the walnuts out on a baking tray and bake for 40 minutes until golden. The long baking time gives a rich and deep roasted result. Leave the nuts to cool and then place them in a jar or sealed container and store for up to a couple of months.
On the day you want to serve your pancakes, make the carrots. Preheat the oven to 180°C fan (200°C/Gas 6) Line a small baking tin with high sides with one sheet of foil and one sheet of baking paper – both pieces should be large enough that they will be able to seal the whole way around the carrots without any gap.
Place one nori sheet on the baking paper, then cut the peeled carrots in half and lay them onto the nori, squeezing each one next to the other as tightly as possible. You should be able to make two layers of carrots, depending on your topping.
Sprinkle the carrots with the salt, paprika, star anise and seaweed and then top with the other nori sheet. Drench the carrots in olive oil, making sure they are totally submerged. We are cooking them ‘confit’, meaning cooking under oil, which gives them a gloriously soft texture.
Seal the paper and foil around the carrots, scrunching the foil to make a tight seal and being careful not to leave any holes for the oil to escape. Bake for 2 hours until the carrots are soft. You can check them by very carefully opening the parcel and piercing a knife the whole way through a carrot to check it is soft. Leave the carrots to cool. When they reach room temperature, pour the oil into a jar to use for dressings.
Place the cooked carrots on your chopping board, soft side down, and finely slice horizontally, making long thin slices. This simple and meditative way in which you carefully slice the carrots once they are cooked is the key to making them resemble smoked salmon.
Now cook the pancakes. Heat a frying pan over a medium heat with a little oil and ladle the pancake batter into the pan to make rounds the size of a coaster. Cook them for 1 minute on each side and continue until you have the number of pancakes you would like.
Top each pancake with some Cultured Cashew Cream, the smoked carrots, Rosemary Walnuts and leaves, dressing each pancake with a drizzle of the cooking oil and a squeeze of lemon.
Lauren Lovatt has spent years researching and exploring the power of plant-based foods, and particularly how they can make us happy and boost our mental health. This book is the culmination of that passion, and it’s a beautiful, delicious introduction to eating whole foods and cooking with ingredients you may not have used before. Mind Food is published by Leaping Hare Press. Photography © Sara Kiyo Popowa.