Use early season vegetables, if possible—their natural sweetness blossoms when roasted at high heat. The saltiness of the fermented black beans, the acidity of the lime and sour cream, and the brightness of fresh mint balance the sweet flavor of the vegetables. Toasted sesame seeds supply a nice crunch.
Roasted Carrots and Beets with Fermented Black Beans and Sesame
- 6 very small beets (about 2 oz. each)
- 1/4 cup plus 2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
- 10 sprigs thyme
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 9 medium carrots, peeled and cut crosswise into thirds on a diagonal
- 1/3 cup fermented black beans, soaked in water overnight and drained
- 1 stalk celery, halved crosswise
- 1/2 medium yellow onion
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1/4 cup fresh lime juice (from about 2 limes)
- 1/4 tsp. granulated sugar
- 1/4 tsp. Aleppo pepper
- 1/2 tsp. sesame oil, more to taste
- 1 Tbs. toasted sesame seeds
- 1/4 cup loosely packed mint leaves
- Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat to 400°F.
- Position each beet on a sheet of aluminum foil and enclose in a packet leaving the top open. To each packet add 1 tsp. of the oil, 1 sprig of thyme, 2 Tbs. water, and season generously with salt and pepper. Seal the tops and transfer them to a large rimmed baking sheet. Roast the beets until they become tender when poked with a fork, 45 to 60 minutes. Remove from the oven to cool. When cool to the touch, peel the beets and cut each beet into 1-inch wedges.
- Meanwhile, toss 8 carrots, 2 Tbs. of the oil, the remaining 4 thyme sprigs, salt and pepper on another large rimmed baking sheet. Roast until the carrots are tender, but still firm, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool to room temperature.
- In a 2- to 3-quart saucepan, combine the fermented beans, the celery, onion, and remaining carrot with just enough water to cover the beans by about 1-inch. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook until tender, 30 to 35 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature. Strain the beans and discard the celery, onion, and carrot.
- In a small bowl, combine the sour cream and 2 tsp. of the lime juice, sugar, and 1/4 tsp. salt.
- In a large bowl, combine the roasted vegetables, beans, the remaining 2 Tbs. oil, and 3 Tbs. plus 1 tsp. lime juice, Aleppo pepper, sesame oil, and 1/4 tsp. salt. Season to taste with more salt, pepper, and sesame oil. Transfer to a large serving platter and dollop evenly with heaping tablespoons of the sour cream mixture. Garnish with the sesame seeds and mint leaves.