The beauty of the coming of Spring and living in Southern California are the great farmers markets. Whether on tuesday, wednesday or saturday, one is bound to discover a lovely edible that is true to the season and in full ripeness and swing.
I was bombarded by a stall that had every color of carrot I could think of. I had no intention of getting carrots when I arrived but I left with more than I could use. This is due to a chef virus called ” Overexciteditis”, we get too excited and the next thing we know we have way too much and things we don’t even need. Anyway, I realized at this point, ” I think i have to create a new dish”. I love carrots, they are great in texture and flavor whether raw or cooked. I wanted to stay away from the usual suspects of adding alot of sweet elements to it or caramelizing them. Above all “NO PEAS!”. A classic but i’m over it.
The carrots history is intriguing. It’s origin is in Afghanistan (circa pre 900’s) and the original wild colors were purple and yellow. After spreading to Europe centuries later and farmers domesticating them, they were crossbred together and hence the classic orange carrot was born. After smelling and tasting each carrot I realized that there are slight flavor differences but the element of earthy depth is more profound in the darker color varieties. I wanted to create a more savory dish and keep it vegetarian. Not for the sake of doing something just for vegetarians, but keeping the carrots as the main flavor star! Of course it could have been enhanced with smoked bacon fat or slow cooked veal cheeks, but we won’t go there this time.
Starting with 5 colors of carrots, I decide to sous vide according to color to keep the pigment true.
The fattest yellow carrots yet, so I had to get those as well.
NO reason to throw away all those carrot tops, so here is just after blanching and making a carrot top oil.
These beauties made the smoothest most gorgeous flavored puree.
A more organic presentation than usual, but the final dish I came up with was:
Mosaic Carrots in textures, fried creme fraiche puree, peppermint, homemade vadouvan pumpkin seed powder, carrot top oil, lemongrass leaf sabayon