Thursday, December 4, 2008

At Market...Carrots

Here in California, many things are available at our farmers markets year round, or at the very least, we have two long seasons, separated by only a few short months. That is the case for carrots. Tender young carrots are so very different from the so called baby carrots that are available in every grocery store. Those are actually full size carrots that have been whipped around in a peeling and chopping machine, so that they look like baby carrots. Most of the time, it is very hard to taste the difference between those carrots and the bag in which they were packaged.

But young carrots, plucked fresh from the earth, are something to behold indeed. Slightly grassy yet sweet, crisp yet tender, their orange root contrasts so beautifully with the green frilly leaves on top. I like to eat them raw, but they are also so delicious when blanched briefly and then sauteed with butter and leeks. It elevates a simple root into something fancy enough for a dinner party.

Tonight we dined on New England (I know, NOT local) scallops, sauteed in a bit of garlic, butter and white wine, served over white rice with the carrots on the side. It took all of 20 minutes to prepare, and was served up to my rushed, and seemingly unenthusiastic husband and children before soccer practice. I was left alone at the table to linger over my glass of wine, uninterrupted....which I guess is not as bad as I initially made it out to be. I thought that dinner tasted quite delicious actually and I even went back for seconds!

Sauteed Scallops in Butter and White Wine Sauce
serves 4 small eaters...2 big ones!

1 pound of sea scallops
1 T butter
1 T olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 T minced parsley
splash of wine
splash of lemon juice
salt and pepper

Cut large scallops in half crosswise. Heat butter and olive oil in the pan over medium heat and saute garlic for about 2 minutes. Turn heat to high and add scallops to the pan in one layer. Cook for just a two minutes a side, or until opaque. Do NOT overcook scallops! Add a splash of white wine and simmer for one minute more. Turn out into serving bowl, and season with salt and pepper and squeeze lemon over. Taste for seasoning. Sprinkle over chopped parsley and serve.

Sauteed Real Baby Carrots

1 bunch young carrots with tops
1 T butter
1 leek (white part only) sliced and soaked in cold water briefly to remove sand
chopped parsley
salt and pepper

Trim carrots so that about 1/2 inch of the top remains. If desired peel. Blanch carrots in water for a few minutes, or until crisp tender. In saute pan, heat butter over medium heat. Add leeks and saute for 3 minutes or until softened. Add carrots and saute for 2 minutes more. Add salt and pepper to taste and sprinkle over chopped parsley and serve.

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