Consider this: you have a table laden with turkey, gravy, truly-heart-stopping-clogging mashed potatoes, salads, pumpkin bread, wheat rolls, apple-sausage stuffing and the first thing to go are the carrots.
I began to think "Claudia, you're on to something." The recipe hails from Sicily and the secret star is Sicily's Marsala wine. The recipe is from Williams-Sonoma's Savoring Italy by Michele Scicolone. With a little butter, a shallot and some Marsala wine, the carrots are transformed from rabbit-crunchy food to an elegance that speaks of a strand of pearls. And if a living mollusk can create a pearl, it is perfectly reasonable to me that a vegetable garden plus an Italian recipe can produce similar elegance.
Carote in Marsala
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1 shallot, chopped
1 pound (500 g) carrots, peeled and sliced thin
salt to taste
1/4 cup (2 fluid ounces, 60 ml dry Marsala)**
(to make this vegan use Earth Balance Butter)
*I used sweet Marsala and I will spare you the reason why; suffice to say - it worked
** Substitutions for Marsala: apple juice with a drop of sherry vinegar and a table spoon of honey (it won't be the same but it will imitate the sweet syrupy glaze)
In a large frying pan over medium-high heat, melt the butter. Add the shallot and saute until just tender. Add the carrots and the salt, reduce heat to low, cover and cook - stirring occasionally - until the carrots are tender - about 20 minutes. If they begin to scorch, add a little bit of water. Add the Marsala and cook, uncovered, until it evaporates (3-4 minutes). Serve immediately.
In this season of rushing, perfection-yearning, overload and "must-do," there is sophistication in this simple prep. It showcases what Italians do so well - make it seasonal and make it the star. The carrots are enriched by the other ingredients but they remain front and center. Time to let the vegetable shine!