Featuring two vegetables that shared a can throughout my childhood, this curry was inspired by one of our favorite dining experiences at the Sugar Mill restaurant in Montego Bay, Jamaica. Through thoughtful preparation and seasoning, soulful staples like ackee and bean stew and pumpkin soup were elevated to high cuisine. Our curry features a base of island spices and coconut milk that pairs well with rice or pasta and with many vegetables as well. Thumbelina carrots are small and round—about the size and shape of a golf ball—with an especially sweet flavor. If you can’t find them, substitute any heirloom carrots, cut into 1-1/2-inch cubes.
1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat and prepare an ice bath.
2. Blanch the peas in the boiling water for 2 to 3 minutes. Drain the peas, shock in the ice bath for 5 minutes, then drain thoroughly.
3. Toss the carrots in a large bowl with 2 tablespoons of the oil, the salt, and pepper. Spread them on a sheet pan and roast until forktender, 12 to 15 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a sauté pan over high heat, then add the curry powder, allspice, and cumin. Allow the spices to sizzle in the oil for about 30 seconds, then stir in the stock, coconut milk, and brown sugar.
5. Simmer for 5 minutes, stir in the peas and roasted carrots, and serve.
Tip: Fresh peas really make this dish, but if they are not in season, you can prepare this recipe with thawed frozen peas. Just skip step 2 and add the peas at the beginning of step 5.
Recipe from Vedge: 100 Plates Large and Small That Redefine Vegetable Cooking, copyright © Rich Landau and Kate Jacoby, 2013. Reprinted by permission of the publisher, The Experiment. Available wherever books are sold.
"[Side dishes] have to be quite dramatic," says Australian author Donna Hay. "They're like the good supporting actors in their roles."