January 13, 2011
I know, I know—two braised vegetable dishes, two weeks in a row. What can I say? I’m on a kick of sorts.
There’s something so satisfying about cooking from the hip or on the fly. No real recipe, no measuring, just a smattering of what you have around the house (whether it be freezer, refrigerator, pantry, liquor cabinet, spice rack, and/or garden) that might taste good together.
I find that vegetables are a great place to do this. They’re a bit more forgiving than proteins, and if you’re trying to eat more of them, as we are, variety is key to staying on the wagon. Not to mention, I find that it often just takes one dish, one new preparation, that can turn a palate’s veggie-tude around: broccoli roasted instead of steamed, spinach raw instead of frozen, pickled beets, caramelized Brussels sprouts, and so on.
Carrots have always been a particular favorite of mine, a proclivity attributable to my mother’s propagation of the “they’ll improve your eyesight!” exaggeration many of us were party to as kids. I started wearing glasses when I was two-and-a-half and, as you can see here, they were of the impossibly thick plastic-frame variety. (Kids today have no idea how good they have it when it comes to glasses frame design options.)
I would have done anything to rid myself of those glasses, including eating pounds upon pounds of carrots. Which I did, causing my mom to back off of her urgings a bit when I seemed to be turning an alarming Oompa-Loompa-like orange. But the thing is, much as I loved carrots, I loved them only and always raw. Crunchy and crisp and jaw-tiringly raw. Show me a cooked carrot and I would wrinkle my nose.
Trouble is, a plate of raw carrots isn’t the most elegant dinner side dish. Great in salads and dandy in a plastic bag as a mid-day snack, but still a bit one-trick-pony-ish. Until I learned to quick pickle them, a gateway of sorts. Leading to this past weekend when I voluntarily cooked carrots for the first time. And ate them! And enjoyed them. So much that I forgot to ask Sonya to take a picture of the finished dish. Oops!
BRAISED RAINBOW CARROTS
If you can find lovely market carrots like these, I urge you to use them. Otherwise, grab the thinnest, “youngest” carrots you can find, lopping off the greens as soon as you buy them. Feel free to swap in dried thyme for the fresh; if you do this, you’ll need less.
1-2 bunch baby carrots, scrubbed but not peeled, ends cut
½ of a yellow onion, thinly sliced
4-5 springs fresh thyme
1-2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
red wine vinegar
salt & pepper
Heat the olive oil in a wide skillet over medium-low heat. Add the onions and garlic, sautéing over low heat until translucent. Toss in the carrots and push them around the pan to absorb some of the onion-garlic-olive-oil-y goodness.
After a minute or two, add a generous glug of white wine, enough to form a thin layer at the bottom of the skillet. Lay the thyme inside the skillet as well and cover with a lid, turning up the heat a bit so that the wine will just simmer.
Cook until the carrots have reached your desired state of tenderness, anywhere from 12-20 minutes, depending on the size of your carrots. Finish with a splash of red wine vinegar and salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot or warm.