Over the weekend, one of my oldest friends got married. You know her from her jalapeño cheddar bread–a good thing to be known for. She was beautiful, the setting was incredible, and as the sun set on the longest day of the year and the florescent fuchsia light melted over the converging lines of the vineyard’s vines, the twenty other friends I’d known since childhood or preteen-hood were beautiful too. Awww.
One of the ways we’ve all stayed friends for so long is through potlucks and dinner parties. After a night of eating and drinking, it’s never long before someone emails to begin planning the next event. Geographically, we’re only scattered across a city, not the country, so gathering is easier. But you can’t underestimate how much a love for food–particularly rich vegetarian food like cheesy jalapeño bread and avocado aioli–can keep a group together.
Not all the events are the result of long email chains. I brought this carrot and avocado dip to Essie’s impromptu barbecue the other day (the final version included cut-up beets, too, but those stain your thumbs red, and this recipe is all about easy-to-eat finger food). Essie is one of the few high school friends who’s made it to Brooklyn, and I can walk to her apartment, which has a terrace, in 10 minutes. She has a grill, and I have a way with carrots, avocados, and herbs–and a couple Sundays ago this added up to yet another beautiful day spent over food with people I’ve been eating with since I wore pastel bell bottoms in 7th grade. Yes.
Roasted Carrot Dippers with Herbed Avocado Aioli
Serves 4 as an appetizer
I love using “natural” baby carrots for this dish–you’ll find them at the farmers’ market this time of year. They’re just tiny carrots, but they’re very cute and perfect for dipping. Feel free to substitute multicolored carrots if you see them. Or, cut regular-sized carrots into thirds or so. You can also pour out a bag of purchased baby carrots onto a baking sheet and proceed from there.
2 bunches baby carrots
1 garlic clove
2 thin slices yellow onion or 1 scallion, sliced
2 sprigs fresh basil
2 sprigs fresh parsley
Large handful cilantro leaves
2 small ripe avocados
1 tablespoon mayo
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
Pinch of sugar or a tiny drizzle of honey
Preheat the oven to 400°F. On a sheet pan, drizzle the carrots with 1 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil and then toss. Sprinkle with salt. Roast for 20 minutes, until browned on the bottom and cooked through. Remove and set aside (these are fine at room temperature).
Meanwhile, make the aioli: in a mini food processor, pulse the garlic and onion with a big pinch of salt until pulverized. Add the herbs and process again. Pit and peel the avocados, and add the flesh to the processor, then add the mayo, vinegar, 1/4 cup olive oil, sugar, and 1/2 cup water and process again, until very smooth. Taste for salt, adding more as needed. Also, add more water if you’d like a thinner dip and more vinegar or sugar to balance the flavors.
Arrange the warm or room temperature carrots on a platter. Scoop the aioli into a bowl and set beside the carrots for dipping.