Magazine article Sunset

3 Ways with Fresh Carrots

Magazine article Sunset

3 Ways with Fresh Carrots

Article excerpt

Dress up these staples of spring in a sophisticated risotto, an exotic salad, and some rich little cakes

Caramelized carrot risotto

Delicate mascarpone cheese is a natural companion to sweet caramelized carrots in this brightly hued risotto.

PREP AND COOK TIME 1¼ hours

MAKES 6 to 8 servings as a side dish or first course

NOTES To make this risotto even prettier, you can cut the carrots into ¼-in. dice (it's time-consuming, but makes the carrots look like little jewels). Mascarpone-a rich Italian-style cream cheese available at specialty, gourmet, and Whole Foods stores-can be replaced with an equal amount of heavy cream.

2 tbsp. vegetable oil, divided

3 tbsp. unsalted butter, divided

6 medium carrots, peeled and chopped as finely and evenly as possible (about 3 cups; see Notes)

About ½ tsp.salt

1 tsp. sugar

5 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth

1/3 cup minced onion

1½ cups Arborio rice

½ cup dry white wine

¼ cup mascarpone cheese

¼ cup freshly shredded parmesan cheese, plus ½ cup for garnish

1 tbsp. finely chopped flat-leaf parsley, plus 1 tbsp. for garnish

1 tsp. roughly chopped fresh thyme

1/8 tsp. white pepper

1. Heat 1 tbsp. oil and 1 tbsp. butter over medium heat in a medium heavy-bottomed pot; add carrots and stir with a wooden spoon until well coated. Add ½ cup water, ½ tsp. salt, and the sugar; cover and cook 5 minutes, or until tender. Uncover and cook, stirring occasionally, until water evaporates and carrots are just starting to brown, a few minutes more. Reserve half of the carrots. In a blender, purée other half with ¾ cup hot water.

2. Bring chicken broth to a simmer and keep at a simmer, covered, over low heat.

3. Heat remaining oil and butter over medium heat in same (unwashed) pot used for carrots. Add onion and cook until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add rice, stirring with a wooden spoon to coat rice with oil, 1 minute. Add wine and cook, stirring, until wine evaporates. Add carrot purée and cook, stirring, until mixture no longer looks soupy.

4. Add ½ cup hot broth, stirring often, until rice absorbs most of the liquid. Repeat process, adding 1/2 cup broth at a time and stirring often till each addition is absorbed before adding the next, until rice is al dente (about 20 minutes; at least 1 cup broth will remain).

5. Fold in reserved carrots (save 2 tbsp. for garnish), mascarpone, ¼ cup parmesan, 1 tbsp. parsley, and the thyme. Add up to 1 cup broth (¼ cup at a time) to loosen the risotto. Season with salt and white pepper to taste.

6. Sprinkle each bowl of risotto with some of remaining ½ cup parmesan, remaining 1 tbsp. parsley, and reserved carrots. Serve immediately.

PER SERVING 302 CAL., 42% (126 CAL.) FROM FAT; 9.1 G PROTEIN; 14 G FAT (7.1 G SAT.); 33 G CARBO (4.1 G FIBER); 696 MG SODIUM; 25 MG CHOL.

Carrot manchego salad

Its sweet note of honey and its aromatic cumin seeds give this salad a Moorish character. The sharp, nutty manchego cheese shavings add another taste of Spain.

PREP AND COOK TIME 30 minutes, plus 1 hour of salting time

MAKES 6 servings as a side dish

NOTES Salting the sliced carrots makes them release their liquid, so it doesn't dilute the vibrant vinaigrette; salting also makes the carrots slightly tender. Toasting and grinding whole cumin seeds tempers the bitter overtones of raw cumin. Manchego, a firm sheep's-milk cheese from Spain, is available at gourmet, specialty, and Whole Foods stores. Use one with a good, strong flavor (ask for a taste before you buy it).

9 or 10 medium carrots, peeled and sliced into thin coins on a mandoline or with the slicing attachment of a food processor (to yield 5 cups; see Notes)

About 2¼ tsp. …

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