Spice Blend


Instructions Checklist
  • To make the spice blend: Finely grind the cumin and pink pepper together, and immediately mix with the chile powder and pimenton.

  • To make the sauce: Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. When the oil is slightly warm but not hot, after about 30 seconds, add the spice blend and stir until the spices bloom and become very fragrant, about 30 seconds. Don’t let the spices burn.

  • Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until sizzling and aromatic, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the onions, sprinkle generously with salt, and cook, stirring continuously, for 2 minutes. Cover and cook, stirring and scraping the bottom of the saucepan occasionally to soften the onions and let the spices infuse them, about 8 minutes.

  • Add the carrots and celery, and stir well to coat with the spices. Cover and cook, stirring and scraping occasionally, to soften the carrots and infuse them with flavor, about 8 minutes.

  • Add the orange juice, stir well, and cover. Cook for 5 minutes. Add 3 cups cold water, stir well, and increase the heat to high. Bring to a steady simmer. Season to taste with salt, cover, and reduce the heat to maintain a low simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the carrots are cooked through but still retain a fresh flavor, about 20 minutes.

  • Transfer the sauce to a blender, and blend until smooth, working in batches if needed and adding more water if you prefer it thinner. If you want it extra smooth, pour it through a fine-mesh sieve. If you want a richer sauce, blend in 1 to 2 tablespoons more oil. Season to taste with salt. Transfer 3 cups of the sauce to a large pot, and set aside. (Save the rest -- about 4 cups -- to enjoy with pasta another time or as a soup. It can be refrigerated up to 1 week.)

  • Boil orecchiette until it is just shy of al dente (usually 1 minute less than the package directions). Meanwhile, heat the creamy carrot sauce over medium heat until bubbling. Drain the pasta, and add it to the sauce, tossing until the pasta is evenly coated and al dente. Divide among plates, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with the poppy seeds.


Recipes reprinted from Mastering Spice, by Lior Lev Sercarz. Copyright 2019. Published by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of Penguin Random House, LLC.