Saturday, November 18, 2017

Not Quite to Go... – Day 3 of This Year’s Marathon of Sides

What’s cooking? Smashed Carrots with Feta and Mint

It will take me longer to write this post than it will take any of you to cook this dish, and it’s not going to be a long post. That’s because I’m running out of time to get something up for you before midnight, even though I’m pretty sure most of you – except maybe my friend Henrietta – have the good sense to be in bed by now.

But that’s not going to stop me. Why? Because this new carrot dish is amazing – the texture and flavors are entirely fresh and different. It’s such a pretty dish, too. Even my prince said they were the best carrots he’d had in a long time, and I don’t think it was because he was just hungry.

When you go to buy carrots for this dish, do the Kitchen Goddess a favor and buy the big ones. No frou-frou baby carrots for this dish. It won’t have the same texture, and it won’t have as many of those wonderful nutrients – vitamins A, C, and K, plus potassium – that make carrots so good for you. Cup for cup, baby carrots offer 55% less vitamin A, 55% less vitamin C, 30% less vitamin K, and 25% less potassium than the big-boy carrots. At least, that’s what my research tells me. Of course, if your children will only eat the baby ones – that have been specially bred for sweetness and minimal core – then by all means, buy them. Just not for this dish.

I loved the texture of this dish. Smashing the carrots – which is way more interesting than puréeing them – gives you that lovely mix of soft with not-so-soft, and combines well with the cheese. In effect, the smashed carrots have the same texture as the crumbled feta, so the dish has a nice, even consistency. And the feta, with its sharp, salty flavor, is a great pairing to bring out the natural sweetness of the carrots.

Please note that while it takes very little time to make this dish, you can still cook the carrots/garlic mixture a day ahead. Then when you’re close to serving time, reheat the mix and add the feta/mint. What a winner.

The KG liked garnishing with a pretty bit of carrot top. Check at your grocer or local farmers’ market.

Smashed Carrots with Feta and Mint

Adapted from David Tanis in The New York Times.

Serves 4-6.

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 pounds large carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
Salt and pepper
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 cup well-flavored chicken broth (or vegetable stock)
6 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
2 tablespoons freshly chopped mint leaves
Pinch of Aleppo pepper (or crushed red pepper)

In a large skillet with a lid, heat the olive oil at medium-high until it shimmers (not smoking). Add the carrots and stir them around in the oil to coat. Sprinkle the carrots with ½ teaspoon kosher salt and ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper.

Add the garlic and stir it frequently with the carrots until it reaches a golden color, about 3 minutes. Do not let the garlic brown. Add the chicken (or vegetable) stock and stir to combine well.

Cover the pot and reduce the heat to medium low, so that the carrots simmer until tender, about 10 minutes. Remove the lid and continue to simmer the carrots another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, then turn the heat to medium high until most of the stock has evaporated, which should take another 2 minutes.

Using a potato masher, smash the carrots in the skillet until the mixture reaches a texture you like. Try to leave it a bit rough.

At this point, the carrots can be covered and set aside until you are ready to serve. When you’re ready to serve, reheat the carrots over low heat, adding a tablespoon or two of broth if the mixture seems dry. Check the seasoning and add salt/pepper to taste.

Reserve 1-2 ounces of the feta and about a quarter of the chopped mint as garnish. Stir the rest of the feta and mint into the warm carrots, and transfer the mixture to a serving dish. Sprinkle with the Aleppo pepper (or crushed red pepper), and the remaining feta and mint.

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Come back Sunday for the final installment of this year's Marathon of Sides. Yes, the Kitchen Goddess is taking Saturday off.


  1. I think this would be a great Thanksgiving side, but I would want to prepare it all the day before (in a casserole dish), and then pop it in the oven to reheat for dinner. Can that approach work? I'd rather not be toiling over the stove to reheat it at the final moments before dinner.

  2. Thanks for stopping by, Ellen. I don't want you toiling over a stove, either! The only problem with putting the completed dish into the oven is that the mint will turn brown. But you can still prepare the carrots in the casserole dish, then put the crumbled feta and the whole mint leaves in a separate dish with cellophane. Once you've got the carrots reheated, it won't take 30 seconds to stir in the feta, and maybe another 10 seconds to chop the mint. The feta doesn't need to be heated at all -- just take it out of the fridge 30 mins before serving to get it to room temp. Hope this helps. Happy Thanksgiving!