Thursday, January 04, 2007

The Bridesmaid's Moment In The Spotlight

To continue on the theme, if goose is the neglected bird, then I think carrots are the neglected vegetable. Carrots are always the bridesmaid, never the bride. Carrots are in everything, at the core of everything. No stock is complete without carrots, no Thanksgiving turkey goes without a carrot up its bum (not in my house, anyway) and chicken soup is a pale version of itself without the carrots floating about. Yet, carrots are rarely the star ingredient… unless they are smothered in honey and resemble dessert. That’s just a shame, an oversight.

I happen to really like carrots, and not just in the background. I figured this out a couple of months ago when I was inundated with carrots by Boston Organics and had nothing left to do but… cook them. Yes, cook them. Just the carrots, all by themselves, as a side. Carrots and ginger are a classic combination, ginger and lemon get along well and I believe anything and everything benefits from a sprinkling of cayenne, and there you go! Ginger-lemon-spicy carrots (GLS-carrots, for short).

My last Boston Organics box had the most beautiful and weird-looking carrots I have seen. They were psychedelic, blemish-free, very thin-skinned, and looking very much like perfect marzipan versions of themselves. A bit of internet sleuthing led me to discover that they are rainbow carrots, bred for color. Incidentally, carrots were purple originally but were bred to be orange by the Dutch to resemble the House of Orange. I am highly suspicious of that last bit. Can’t always trust the internet, even if the source is the World Carrot Museum (World, mind you). Even carrots have a fan site.

Having never had rainbow carrots before, I had no idea what to expect. Are the purple ones purple all through? Does each color have its own flavor, like Skittles? The answers turned out to be no and, um, no. Bet you’re surprised about the last one. I was.

The purple carrots had a thin layer of purple just under the skin but they were orange at the core. The orange carrots were intensely orange and the albino carrots were just kinda white. The GLS formula was applied to the rainbow carrots with great success. The carrots were sweeter than any I have had. So sweet, in fact, that the lime juice and carrot juice made a thick syrup at the bottom of the pan. Sweet, sour, spicy GLS-carrots herald the bridesmaid’s moment to shine. In the shadows no longer, GLS-carrots (of the Skittle variety or not) hold their own.

I’d like to give a recipe here but I don’t really know what I did. Don’t you love it when people say that? The broad strokes of GLS-carrots are as follows:

Put inch-sized chunks of carrots in a pan with a little bit of water and a drizzle of olive oil. Grate fresh ginger over the top and add a dash of cayenne pepper. Steam with the lid on over medium heat until most of the water evaporates. Squeeze the juice of half a lemon over the carrots and add the zest of one whole lemon. Steam again until the liquid evaporates. The carrots should still be firm, not mushy.

How’s that for precise instructions? Sorry. I will pay attention next time I do this.

1 comment:

JC said...

We had a carrot side dish for Christmas dinner, my grandmother makes it every year. I think it's basically carrots in butter, but it's really good.

And they mention this at the World Carrot Museum, but my alma mater developed a maroon carrot (Beta Sweet). It's orange on the inside too.