There’s been some major seasonal produce/farmers’ market fetishism (of which I’m also an eager participant) during the past few years, so vegetables can seem played out. That’s partly why so much meat appears on this blog, but produce was actually my first love. Nigel Slater’s outstanding cookbook, Tender, got me back in touch with my roots.
The book is organized by vegetable and written from the perspective of a gardener. Yet Slater doesn’t shy away from the use of bacon, prosciutto, and artisan cheeses. He understands that these ingredients bring out the best in seasonal produce. I particularly enjoyed his recipe for celery root remoulade— crumbling crisp bacon over the top really dialed this French bistro classic up a notch.
The book is inspiration for dishes that will clean out the fridge or the pantry. The recipes are more like guidelines and come together quickly for weeknight dinners. They’re adaptable for anyone with cooking intuition, as you can can easily swap out different vegetables for whatever you have on hand. Some of the ingredient combinations are unexpected like the Creamy Baked Brussels Sprouts with Stilton. I collected some bits of Stichelton from my fridge, swapped out the sprouts for kale, and one friend who was scared of blue cheese actually loved the dish.
These carrot fritters are another example of a quick satisfying meal, and you’ll probably find most of the ingredients in your kitchen already.
Carrot and Cilantro Fritters
- 11 ounces carrots
- a medium onion
- a clove of garlic, crushed
- 2/3 cup heavy cream
- 1 egg, beaten
- 3 tablespoons grated cheese, such as a good strong Cheddar
- cilantro leaves- a handful, coarsely chopped
- all-purpose flour- a heaping tablespoon
- olive oil for shallow frying
Scrub the carrots and push them through a food processor fitted with a grater attachment. If you prefer, grate them by hand using the coarse side of the grater. Either way, you are after long, thin shreds rather than mush. Transfer them to a bowl.
Peel the onion, finely slice or grate it, and stir it into the carrots along with the garlic and seasoning of salt and black pepper. Stir in the heavy cream, beaten egg, grated cheese, coarsely chopped cilantro, and the flour.
Warm a shallow layer of olive oil in a nonstick frying pan. Drop large dollops of the mixture into the pan, a couple at a time, and fry until lightly cooked at the bottom. Turn with a spatula and let the other side color. They should take three or four minutes per side. The cakes are ready as soon as they are dark gold. Remove to a warm plate. A sheet of paper towel will remove any oil. Eat immediately.