Right before spring we began to see all these really amazing heirloom carrots in the markets. We made three really good dishes from these over the course of late winter and early spring.
The first was a recipe for Umami Carrot Soup from the Herbfarm Cookbook. This amazing soup really amped up the carrot flavor, using 2 cups of fresh carrot juice and then added a couple of fantastic additions, toasted corainder seed, and a super strong peppermint tea.
We don't have a picture for the second or third recipes. (Sorry to say!) We were tired all winter, and it was usually late and by the time we thought of taking pictures, we'd eaten all the food! (This happens to us a lot.)
The second recipe was a Hijiki and Carrot Salad. For some reason, I'm not too good with making salads, unless they have no leafy greens in them, and then I usually do okay.
Stealing an idea from the Herbfarm's soup, we soaked the hijiki in a hot mint green tea combo until it softened up. Then we drained it. The hijiki was tossed with some sliced radishes (about 5,) some diced heirloom carrots (probably two or three,) a diced avocado, and then dressed all of this with about two teaspoons of ume plum vinegar and about a tablespoon of unfiltered (nigori) sake and finished with a single drop of toasted sesame oil. This was really fantastic. We had it with something else, but darned if I can remember what that was!
The third recipe was an Heirloom Carrot Ziti with Ricotta.
1lb heirloom carrots, cut into thin disks
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Shallot, minced
2 T olive oil
2 or 3 fresh tomatoes, diced, or a 24 oz can of chopped tomatoes drained of liquid. Save the liquid for another sauce!
1 or 2 T of drained, rinsed capers.
2 T chopped fresh mint (basil would work)
2 T fresh chopped parsley
1/2 cup fresh sheep's milk ricotta.
Salt and pepper to taste.
Start some water to cook a pound of ziti. The water should be started while you prep the stuff above, and the pasta and sauce should cook at around the same time. When you drain the pasta, hold on to about 1/2 cup to a cup of the pasta water.
Heat the garlic and the shallot in oil on medium high heat until golden. Add the carrots and cook for a few minutes (at the end of cooking, the carrots should still be a bit crisp and sweet, so keep that in mind.)
Add the tomatoes and cook for a few minutes until they begin to break down a bit. Add the capers and simmmer until it breaks down a little more.
Take the ricotta, the mint and the parsley and put them into a bowl large enough to hold all the sauce, and all the pasta. Add 1/2 cup of pasta water and wisk this until it's smooth-ish.
Once the pasta finishes, drain it (don't rinse!) and add the pasta and the tomato sauce. Toss, and season with salt and pepper to taste. This is good enough to eat at this point (and we did, twice!)... BUT
This type of sauce would traditionally add around a cup of grated parmigiano-reggiano and some grated nutmeg at this point and then have you stir that all in, but it really will stand up without that.