Crisp, tender carrots –
for a spring feast
Article and photo by Lisa Crockett
I love spring. Even though I’ve experienced the change of seasons more times than I care to admit, there’s always something miraculous about green grass and blossoms on the trees. After a long, cold winter, sunshine and warmth enough to venture out without a coat seems like the ultimate freedom. More hours of daylight mean I’ll be in the garden, in the park, or on a trail somewhere, so anything that happens in my kitchen needs to be quick and simple.
It’s my theory that Easter tends to feature ham as the main dish simply because it requires little to no preparation and can be served hot, cold, or room temperature and still be quite tasty. Add in a few side dishes that can do the same thing, and it’s completely possible to host a springtime gathering that is just about as easy for you as it is for anyone you might be feeding. Delicious dinner rolls (from your kitchen or your favorite bakery) are a natural accompaniment for ham, particularly with a gourmet mustard or two. Additionally, blanched and chilled green beans in a simple vinaigrette are a lovely complement to a ham that can also bear some time on the table without any loss of tastiness.
I like a few veggies on the table, so in addition to those green beans, I like to add glazed carrots to the menu. The carrots I’ve featured here are delicious the minute they come off the heat, but also an hour or two later. It’s especially nice that the glaze is made of, well, almost nothing. Using just a schmear of butter and a hint of brown sugar, you can bring out the simple natural sweetness of the carrots. In addition, it’s nice to use a root veggie like a carrot since they are a vegetable you can count on – early season vegetables sometimes have variable availability, which can make planning for a spring meal a little tricky. Carrots take out the guesswork since they are inexpensive and easy to find no matter the time of the year. The bright orange of a perfectly cooked carrot adds a lovely pop of color to any meal, too.
This recipe can easily be made with a one-pound bag of baby carrots, but I like to use regular carrots that have been rinsed and peeled, both because I think they taste better and also look prettier. Even using regular carrots, this method takes just a few minutes. Still, if you’re in a hurry, don’t be afraid to simply use a bag th
at’s ready to go. Once you’ve assembled the ingredients – water, butter, sugar, and carrots – toss them in a skillet, stir to combine, steam until carrots soften slightly, and then stir until the glaze is sticky and thick. All in all, you’ll be at the stove for 10 minutes or less.
These carrots are special enough for a holiday meal, but also work well for a weeknight dinner in a hurry. No matter when you make them, you can cook, eat, and head out the door to enjoy some of that sunshine and warm weather. A little less time in the kitchen means a little more time to connect with nature – exactly the kind of renewal this season calls for.