I’m not much of a carrot-fancier and I generally avoid those bags of ready peeled baby carrots that resemble Oompa-Loompa body parts.
Then I came across a recipe by my culinary hero, Nigel Slater, for baby spring carrots; carrots that were long and slender, complete with fronds of feathery foliage – beautiful, in tact and quite unlike those ready peeled nuggets where you can’t tell one end from the other.
You don’t need to peel baby carrots (so why are they peeled and packaged, I wonder; were they once massive?) All that a genuinely young carrot needs is a good rinse under running cold water.
The combination of dill, parsley, basil and minced shallot along with a good dollop of crème fraiche and a squeeze of lemon, creates a sauce that works beautifully with carrots. They’ll go brilliantly with your Easter ham, roast leg of lamb or whatever else you plan for this weekend.
In fact they’re so good that I could eat them on their own.
Note: crème fraiche isn’t to be confused with sour cream – there’s no comparison. Most good supermarkets sell crème fraiche in little tubs – the rich flavor is essential for enhancing many sauces, soups etc., and shouldn’t be substituted with anything else here.
SPRING CARROTS in a FRESH HERB SAUCE
(Serves 4-6 as a side dish)
2 bunches of slim young carrots with fronds
One medium sized shallot, finely chopped
One packet or small bunch of fresh basil
One packet or small bunch of flat-leaf Italian parsley
One packet or small bunch of fresh dill
7-8oz (200ml) of crème fraiche
Juice of half a small lemon
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Trim most of the fronds from each carrot and wash (don’t peel) them under cold running water.
Steam or boil the whole carrots for 6-10 minutes, depending on their size -until they’re just tender, then drain them.
Discarding the stalks, chop the herbs finely.
In a wide shallow pan that’s large enough to contain the carrots in a single layer, add the crème fraiche, minced shallot, chopped herbs and a good squeeze of lemon juice. Bring everything to a boil, season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper then add the drained carrots. (I halve the bigger ones lengthways).
Simmer for a couple of minutes until the carrots have warmed through, stirring very gently to coat them with the sauce.
In France my Mother-In-Law would grate carrots in thin strips and squeeze a juice of one or two lemons and put some olive oil and one chopped garlic clove and lots of fresh parsley with salt and pepper. It is a wonderful salad for summer.