Recipe: Spring carrots with aioli
The early spring carrots are bunched in pretty rows in the produce section of my supermarket and although I wince at the price, I buy them. They still have their frondy tops, are not banged up in bags, and - I am reasonably sure - have not been washed in a substance that prevents them sprouting.
Almost as good as home- grown perhaps, although I can't remember the last time I saw a bunch of carrots fresh from the spade, as it were. Gardeners tell me carrot fly is the problem. Old blokes tell me it's the height of the bed that matters (raised vegetable beds will confuse the carrot fly apparently). Anyway, I am appreciating the lively juiciness of new season's carrots and, taking a leaf from a French woman's kitchen, they are mostly ending up in salads.
BLANCHED CARROTS WITH AIOLI
The garlic mayo is more than a dressing for the carrots; think of it as a dip. Because the eggs are raw, ensure you know and trust the provenance of them.
For the aioli:
4 garlic cloves, peeled and shredded
2 egg yolks
1/2 Tbsp mild mustard
1/4 tsp salt - or more to taste
21/2 tsp fresh lemon juice
11/2 cup light olive oil
Put everything except the oil in the processor and whiz until smooth. Keep the motor running and slowly add the oil, gradually increasing the pour. Stop when the aioli is your preferred thickness, keeping in mind it will thicken as it stands. Cover and refrigerate until needed.
For the blanched baby carrots:
Scrub and trim a large bunch of young new carrots, retaining some of the stalk (to be used as a handle), or peel the carrots if preferred.
Have ready a large pan of boiling salted water, and a shallow bowl filled with ice and chilled water. Drop all the carrots at once into the boiling water and boil briskly for two minutes. Use tongs and remove as many as possible at once, dropping them immediately into the iced water. Turn to ensure the vegetables are chilled, then drain. Spread on a shallow dish and use a tea towel to pat dry.
Serve with the bowl of aioli urging guests to dip the crisp tender carrots into the creamy garlicky lushness.
CARROT SALAD WITH LIME AND GINGER DRESSING
1-2 bunches of spring carrots, scrubbed and trimmed
1 small red onion
1 2.5cm piece of fresh ginger, peeled
4-6 Tbsp of a chilli-infused oil (check the Asian goods department in supermarkets)
1 lime, zested and juiced
Salt to taste
Grate the carrots into long skinny threads. Chop the red onion into tiny dice. Make the dressing by putting ingredients in a covered jar and shaking well until the oil emulsifies. Put carrot shreds and diced onion on a serving plate. Taste the dressing and add more lime or salt as necessary. Add dressing to raw vegetables and toss gently.