Knives Out — For Fanciful Carrots

Carrots that make you sit up and take notice.
Carrots that make you sit up and take notice.

Get that sharp chef’s knife at the ready — for hasselback carrots.

Yes, the technique that’s all the rage for potatoes can be used just as easily on carrots.

“Hasselback Carrots with Pimenton and Roasted Lemon” is a recipe from the new “Simply Julia: 110 Easy Recipes for Healthy Comfort Food” (Harper Wave), of which I received a review copy.

It’s the newest cookbook by the ever-popular Julia Turshen, the New York-based veteran cookbook author, and host of the podcast “Keep Calm and Cook On.”

The book includes 110 recipes that are accessible and far from fussy, such as “Fancy Weeknight Salmon Salad,” “Sheet Pan Lamb Meatballs with Sweet & Sour Eggplant,” “Breakfast Nachos,” and “Coconut Marble Loaf.”

Turshen also includes her trademark lists, such as “Five Things That Are Always in My Refrigerator” (such as kimchi), “Seven Kitchen Organizational Tips” (including the use of turntables in cupboards and refrigerators), and “Seven Ways to Use Left Over Egg Whites or Egg Yolks” (like using extra whites to make spiced nuts).

Hasselback is the name of the technique in which potatoes are thinly sliced, but not all the way through, so they fan out with an array of crisp edges when roasted. The name comes from Hasselbacken, the Stockholm restaurant that originated it.

It’s a way to wake up everyday carrots, and turn them into showstoppers, especially because they turn especially sweet from roasting, and wonderfully earthy-smoky from an easy accompanying sauce.

Cutting the carrots is a lot easier than  you think.
Cutting the carrots is a lot easier than you think.

The carrots are boiled first until tender enough to slip a knife into easily but not mushy. My carrots were a little smaller than the medium-sized ones called for in the recipe, so I boiled them for 8 minutes as opposed to the 10 minutes instructed in the recipe.

Once the cooked carrots are cool enough to handle, all you need do is position each carrot, one at a time, in between two chopsticks, which help prevent your knife blade from cutting all the way through. Then, cut crosswise, making quite thin slices.

The carrots get drizzled with a mixture of olive oil, pimenton and a splash of the carrot cooking water. Then, they are roasted until tender. The pimenton-oil mixture that dribbles off onto the bottom of the pan may char in the high heat. But that’s OK because it won’t affect the taste or appearance of the carrots.

The carrots get finished with a creamy sauce of yogurt enlivened with garlic, then sprinkled with chopped herbs and almonds. The recipe instructs to dollop the sauce on top of the carrots. But I elected to put the sauce underneath so that the distinctive layers of the carrots would be on full prominent display.

After all, you worked hard to create them, so why not show them off, right?

How pretty is this?
How pretty is this?

Hasselback Carrots with Pimenton and Roasted Lemon

(Serves 4)

8 medium carrots (about 1 1/2 pounds), peeled

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon pimenton (smoked Spanish paprika)

Kosher salt

1 lemon, halved

1/2 cup full-fat plain yogurt (regular yogurt, not thick Greek yogurt)

1 garlic clove, minced

1 small handful fresh Italian parsley, cilantro, and/or mint, roughly chopped (a little stem is fine)

3 tablespoon salted, roasted almonds, roughly chopped

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Place a large pot of water over high heat. Once it comes to a boil, add the carrots and cook until barely tender, about 10 minutes (or 8 minutes if carrots are slightly smaller). Place 2 tablespoons of the cooking water in a small bowl and then drain the carrots and let them hang out until they’re cool enough to handle.

Add the olive oil, pimenton, and 1/2 teaspoon salt to the bowl with the cooking liquid and whisk well to combine. You’ll use this mixture in a moment.

Working with one carrot at a time on your cutting board, place a skewer or chopstick on either side of the carrot and slice each crosswise into very thin slices without cutting through the entire carrot (the skewers will help keep you from cutting through the carrots). Place the carrots in a roasting dish, cut sides up. If one or more carrots break into pieces during this cutting or transferring, don’t worry about it. They’ll still be great even if they’re not whole!

Drizzle the olive oil mixture evenly over the carrots. Place the lemon halves in the roasting dish and roast until everything is browned in spots and the carrots are very tender, about 40 minutes.

Use tongs to squeeze the juice from the lemon halves over the carrots (I like to leave the lemon halves in the dish since they’re so beautiful, but feel free to discard them).

Place the yogurt, garlic, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a small bowl and whisk well to combine. Dollop the yogurt sauce on top of the roasted carrots (or underneath if you want the spotlight fully on the carrots) and sprinkle with herbs and almonds. Serve immediately.

Adapted from “Simply Julia” by Julia Turshen

More Carrot Recipes to Love: Roasted Carrot Dip

And: Carrot Cake with Blond Chocolate Frosting

And: Zucchini, Carrot, and Cranberry Muffins

And: Carrot Tarte Tatin

And: Vanilla Carrot Cream Tart

And: Honey-Roasted Carrot Salad with Arugula and Almonds

And: Quinoa-Carrot Tabbouleh

And: Syrian Kale and Carrot Salad with Shattered Dates

And: Tadka Carrot Salad

And: Maple Mustard and Tahini Glazed Carrots

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  • What an awesome idea! I’ve done Hasselback potatoes more than a few times, but never thought of trying it with other root vegetables. Thinking parsnips would work too…and radishes (which I love sautéed) This is going to make for some very fun experiments, Carolyn; thanks for the tip!

  • Also, it must be said: “Presentation is everything”, and yours here is superb!

  • Hi Carroll: Parsnips would be a fun riff. Thanks for the kind words on the presentation. When you have carrots this dazzling looking, you don’t have to do much to make them supermodels on a plate. 😉

  • Fun idea! And that chopstick trick makes this foolproof (good thing, ’cause my first thought was how am I going to stop my knife from slicing all the way through!). Lovely dish — thanks.

  • Hi John: Yes, the chopstick technique is pretty much fool-proof. Kudos to whomever thought of doing it first. 😉

  • It had to happen…hasselback carrots will be all the rage. I agree with your thoughts on presentation, why would you want to hide all that knife work under a sauce.

  • Hi Karen: Plus the orange color really makes the ridges pop, so you definitely don’t want to cover up that beautiful sight. 😉

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