You probably have a bag of carrots in your refrigerator. I do. I always do. Carrots are the workhorses of the vegetable world. Dependable. Right there in the crisper should you need one or two to sweeten your tomato sauce, or to flavor a batch of chicken broth, or to shred into a tossed salad.
They are, in my opinion, a seriously undervalued ingredient. We pile them on crudité platters and arrange them around a chicken or turkey for roasting. Rarely do we make carrots the star of the show, except for in the ubiquitous carrot cake.
But this common, bright orange (or occasionally red or pale yellow) vegetable has plenty more to offer. I have turned carrots into delicate gnocchi and into filling for ravioli. At Thanksgiving, they become of a rich, savory tart. And I am always looking for new and clever ways to feature them.
Which is why I was so happy to see the recipe for Carrot Escabeche in my friend Sandra Gutierrez’s cookbook, The New Southern-Latino Table: Recipes That Bring Together the Bold and Beloved Flavors of Latin America & the American South. Sliced carrots, cooked until they are just tender, then marinated in vinegar, fresh herbs, and garlic. Yep, that recipe has my name all over it. So do many others in Sandra’s new book. It is filled with fresh takes, from Sweet Corn Soup with Cinnamon Hushpuppies to Kale Canelones with Country Ham and Mushrooms.
Sandra and I met a few years ago at The Symposium for Professional Food Writers at the Greenbrier. As with so many of us, her background is a blend of cultures—in her case Guatemalan and American—that influences everything about her, including the way she cooks. In the introduction to The New Southern-Latino Table she writes: “My first words, I’m told, were in English, and I grew up as a student in an American school in the middle of Guatemala City…Our school cafeteria was as likely to serve hamburgers and tuna salad one day as it was to offer milanesas and panes con frijol the next. Brownies and doughnuts shared the dessert counter with arroz con leche and bunuelos.”
For years, Sandra has made her home in North Carolina, which is why so many of her recipes have a delicious southern twist—Guava Layer Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting! Interspersed throughout the book are short, informative essays ranging from the history of pork in the Americas to what to plant in a Southern-Latino garden. Perhaps the nicest feature, though, is that the book is written in Sandra’s warm, expansive voice. It’s as welcoming as a slice of that layer cake washed down with a glass of sweet tea.
When Sandra asked me to be part of a series of virtual Southern-Latino dinner parties to celebrate the release of her book, I knew I would be in for a treat. Right away, I volunteered to make the Carrot Escabeche. But I did not want to stop there. Flipping through the pages, I found just what I was looking for: Jalapeño Deviled Eggs. Rich and savory, with a fresh herb and jalapeño-spiked filling, these eggs were a perfect partner for the bright, assertive flavors of the escabeche.
I’m sharing both of Sandra’s recipes below, but I invite you to check out all the other delicious dinner party posts celebrating her new book:
* Cheryl Sternman Rule has whipped up Chili-Cheese Biscuits with Avocado Butter.
* Johanna Kramer has your sweet tooth covered with a batch of Pumpkin Seed Brittle.
* And there’s lots more. You’ll find a full roundup of all of the tasty posts, recipes, and links on Sandra’s own blog, Sandra’s Kitchen Studio.
From The New Southern-Latino Table, by Sandra Gutierrez (UNC Press, 2011)
This recipe gives carrots the star treatment they deserve. I like to serve it as an accompaniment to grilled meat, roast chicken, or fish. To insure the fullest flavor, toss the sliced carrots with the vinaigrette while they are still warm. Sandra recommends adding the chopped herbs after the carrots have cooled completely to maintain their bright green hue.
Note: The only change I made to the original recipe was to shorten the cooking time for the carrots. I found they were done within 10 minutes.
2 pounds carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro (leaves and tender stems)
1/4 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley (leaves and tender stems)
1 tablespoon minced fresh mint
1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
Dash freshly ground black pepper
Place the carrots in a medium saucepan filled with cold water. Bring the carrots to a boil and cook over medium-high heat, uncovered, until fork-tender, about 15-20 minutes (see note above). While the carrots are cooking, in a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar and oil; set aside. Drain the carrots and place them in a bowl; pour the vinaigrette over the hot carrots and mix to combine. Allow the carrots to cool to room temperature. Add the cilantro, parsley, mint, rosemary, garlic, salt, and pepper; stir to combine. Serve slightly chilled or at room temperature. The escabeche will keep for up to 1 week in your refrigerator; bring it to room temperature before serving. Serves 6-8.
Jalapeno Deviled Eggs
From The New Southern Latino Table, by Sandra Gutierrez (UNC Press, 2011)
I never met a deviled egg I didn’t like. These ones, though, are especially good, spiked with finely chopped jalapeno pepper and brightened with fresh cilantro. Sandra’s technique for hard-boiling eggs—bringing them to a boil in water and then turning off the heat and letting the eggs sit for 12 minutes—works perfectly. I ended up doubling the recipe because, you know, you can never have too many deviled eggs.
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 teaspoons finely chopped yellow onion
2 teaspoons finely chopped jalapenos (seeded and deveined if less heat is desired)
2 teaspoons finely chopped cilantro (leaves and tender stems)
1 teaspoon finely chopped flat-leaf parsley (leaves and tender stems)
1 teaspoon yellow mustard
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Smoked Spanish paprika (optional, for garnish)
Curly or flat-leaf parsley (for garnish)
Place the eggs in a medium pan and cover with cold water. Set the pan over high heat and bring to a rolling boil. As soon as the water comes to a boil, cover the pan and turn off the heat. Let the eggs cook for 12 minutes. Plunge the eggs into iced water to stop the cooking process.
Once the eggs are chilled, peel off the shells. Halve each egg lengthwise; scoop out the yolk into a small bowl, and set the egg whites on a plate lined with paper towels. Using a fork, mash the egg yolks into a paste; add the mayonnaise, onions, jalapenos, cilantro, parsley, mustard, salt, and pepper and stir together well. (If not serving immediately, cover the egg whites and filling separately with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator for up to 6 hours.) Using a spoon (or a pastry bag), fill the egg white cavities with the egg yolk mixture (about 1 tablespoon). Chill, loosely covered, until ready to serve (but no longer than 2 hours). When ready to serve, sprinkle the eggs with smoked paprika and garnish with parsley. Serves 6.