Summer, bunched carrots are my favourites – sweet and delicate, great for simply munching raw or grated into salads. The first of these to appear in spring come from Spain and have a particularly good flavour.
To cook summer carrots: There’s absolutely no need to peel here – just rinse them under a cold-running tap and cut off the stalks only, just a fraction above the end. This leaves the inside of the carrot intact and, I feel, preserves the flavour. Place them in a steamer, sprinkle with a little salt and steam for about 7 minutes, or until tender when pierced with a skewer but still retaining some firmness and bite. Serve plain, or I like them tossed in butter mixed with some chopped fresh tarragon leaves.
To cook winter carrots: These are available from storage all year round. My favourite way to cook them plainly is to scrape off the skins and cut them into 2 inch (5 cm) chunks, then place them in a saucepan with salt and enough boiling water to barely cover them. Give them about 20 minutes, or until tender but with a little firm bite in the centre, then drain and place them in a food processor and, using the pulse movement, ‘chop’ the carrots quite small, but don’t overdo it or you’ll have a purée.
Quickly return them to the saucepan using a spatula to scrape them back in quickly, add a knob of butter and some freshly milled black pepper, then place them over a gentle heat and stir them around for a couple of minutes to get the heat back in.
1 lb (450 g) of carrots will serve 4.
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