Giving Thanks for Carrots
For the first half-century (plus!) of my life, I couldn’t imagine a meal, much less a Holiday, without a carnivorous centerpiece that needed to be expertly carved and kept moist at all costs.
This holy grail of holiday fare was surrounded by a symphony of plant-based side dishes that were adorned with sausage in the stuffing, marshmallows on the sweet potatoes, cheese in the mashed potatoes, bacon in the brussels sprouts and butter and cream in nearly everything.
Divinely rich, decadent and delicious? Yes. Divinely rich, decadent, delicious and healthy? No.
I believe we can have our delicious holiday and live to tell our grandkids about it, too!
Let’s take the humble carrot, for example. This summer, I finally embraced the stealthy and chameleon nature of the carrot. Steamed until slightly softened, brushed with BBQ sauce then grilled, nestling it in a toasty potato roll and covering it with mustard, sauerkraut and hot pickles. Carrot ‘dogs’ won me over and my life will never be the same. Sliced in a sandwich it even mimics pastrami. No joke!
For our holiday feast this year, I wanted to elevate the experience and give carrots the star-studded treatment they deserve, this time as an autumn dish.
Once upon a time, I traveled to Paris and took a day course at Le Cordon Bleu. The dish we made that day was Osso Buco, which in Italian, means “bone with a hole”. A most delightful experience at the time.
Fast forward to my wild plant-eating adventures of today, a deliciously simple version of this dish can be made by using hearty chunks of carrots and giving them the same culinary crescendo. I’m calling it “carota anima” or “carrot soul” in Italian!
Braised in red wine (I’m using Beaujolais Nouveau in honor of my BFF Lona, and our past antics at this audacious yearly event!) and succulent porcini mushrooms, this rustic dish will catapult you to stratospheric flavors! I use this recipe from Christina Cooks as my guide, and perform my typical haphazard adaptations along the way. Rosemary and oregano will surely make an appearance.
Giving vegetables the center stage will blow your mind when you braise, roast, sauce, spice and grill them up with the same gusto and creativity as you would any other main course ingredient. Give it a try and let me know how it goes!