The only requirement of this simple side dish are really fresh baby carrots and leeks, preferably from your local farmer’s market. Braised leeks and carrots are tender, light and unadulterated. The toasted pumpernickel breadcrumbs add depth and texture.
You never know what you’re going to find at the farmers market from one week to the next. In an organic food stall, we came across these beautiful little carrots with their bright green tops that were so fresh they hadn’t quite realized that they’d been plucked from the earth. When you find vibrant veg, it’s a shame to bring it home only to shuffle it to the depths of your crisper drawer.
So I made a point to use them immediately. I didn’t want to do anything to mask their flavor, only to enhance it. I felt the same for these gorgeous spring green leeks – augment their natural essence not bury it in some other dish.
In fact, they were so pretty, I didn’t want to do much more than rinse away the grit and trim them. To me, the best way to cook tender, fresh veg like this is an easy braise. A little vegetable broth, fresh herbs and a toasty oven-sauna transforms the raw vegetables into fork-tender succulence. I love that.
To give it a little more texture and crunch I sprinkled them with toasted pumpernickel breadcrumbs, though any kind of fresh toasted breadcrumbs would work.
This simple side dish comes together quickly and goes with any protein. We served ours with a roast chicken. Sublime. If you live in Florida – get yourself to a farmer’s market. If you’re from anywhere else, a Whole Foods should have new baby carrots and leeks in stock.
More carrot side dishes:
- Roasted Carrots and Parsnips
- Moroccan Spiced Carrots
- Roasted Spiced Carrots with Pistachios
- Curried Carrot and Parsnip Soup
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Braised Leeks and Carrots with Toasted Crumb
- 3 leeks pale green and white parts
- 6 small – medium carrots organic preferably
- 3 tablespoons olive oil divided
- ½ teaspoon rosemary chopped fresh
- ½ teaspoon thyme chopped fresh
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 2 tablespoons homemade vegetable broth more if needed
- 1 slice pumpernickel or other – sourdough, rye, wheat
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Slice leeks in half lengthwise and rinse any grit or sand out of them. Place the leeks and carrots in a casserole dish. Drizzle two tablespoons of olive oil over the vegetables and lightly toss to coat. Sprinkle with rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper. Add two tablespoons vegetable broth and cover with lid or tight fitting aluminum foil.
- Braise for 40-45 minutes, until vegetables are tender.
- Meanwhile, place the bread in a mini prep food processor and pulse until you have fine breadcrumbs. Transfer breadcrumbs to a small bowl and add remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Toss to coat. Arrange breadcrumbs in a single layer and bake for 5-8 minutes until crisp. Set aside.
- Transfer the vegetables to a serving platter and spoon any braising liquid over them. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs and serve.
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