One of the most useful recipes ever and, sadly, one that is often overlooked. Carrots cooked this way are terrific hot, warm, or at room temperature (use oil instead of butter if you plan to serve them less than hot) and take to a wide variety of herbs and other simple treatments. If you can find real baby carrots-the very thin ones-just trim them quickly (don't even bother to peel them); they'll be super.
1 pound carrots, more or less, cut into coins or sticks
2 tablespoons butter or extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice (optional)
Chopped fresh parsley, dill, mint, basil, or chervil leaves for garnish (optional)
1. Combine the carrots with the butter or oil in a saucepan with a bottom no more than 6 inches in diameter. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add about 1/3 cup water (or white wine or stock if you prefer). Bring to a boil, then cover and adjust the heat so the mixture simmers. Cook, more or less undisturbed, until the carrots are tender and the liquid is pretty much gone, 10 to 20 minutes.
2. Uncover and boil off the remaining liquid, then add the lemon juice if you're using it. Taste and adjust the seasoning; serve hot, or within an hour or two, garnished with the herb if you like.
Quick-Glazed Carrots with Orange and Ginger: Add 1 tablespoon minced or grated fresh ginger to the initial mix; use freshly squeezed orange juice in place of water. Garnish with a teaspoon or more of grated orange and/or lemon zest.
Quick-Glazed Carrots with Walnuts/Pistachios: Add 1 tablespoon packed brown sugar, 1 teaspoon minced garlic (optional), and 1 cup walnut halves.
Balsamic-Glazed Carrots with Garlic: Use balsamic vinegar in place of the water and add 5 to 10 whole cloves garlic along with the carrots. Proceed with the recipe, adding water if the mixture dries out before the carrots are done.
Maple-Glazed Carrots: Add 3 tablespoons maple syrup and 2 tablespoons water to the mixture in Step 1. Add up to 1 cup pecans if you like.
6 More Ways to Jazz Up Quick-Glazed Carrots
1. Add 1/2 cup or so chopped onion, shallot, scallion, or leeks.
2. Add 1/2 cup or so chopped pitted dates or raisins, dried currants, or dried tomatoes.
3. Whisk together 1 tablespoon soy sauce and 1 tablespoon miso, then stir this into the carrots just as they're done.
(Use sake as the glazing liquid instead of the water if you have it.)
4. Add 1 cup or so peas, snow peas, or snap peas along with the carrots (thawed frozen are fine).
5. Add a tablespoon or so of any mild chile paste; one made with ancho chiles would be ideal.
6. Add up to 1 cup whole or chopped nuts or seeds, like peanuts, pistachios, hazelnuts, cashews, sesame seeds, or sunflower seeds.