Colorful, texturally diverse and really delish, this is a side dish that I think you will be proud to serve any time of the year, but especially on Thanksgiving. Try it and let me know!
- 2 1/2 pounds carrots, peeled and sliced 1/2-inch thick on the diagonal
- 1 stick (1/4 pound) butter
- 1 cup walnuts halves
- About 9 ounces dried Calimyrna figs (2 cups whole figs)
- 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf Italian parsley
To blanch carrots
Bring a large pot of water to a rapid boil and place a large bowl of ice water on the counter. Add some salt to boiling water, and then stir in sliced carrots. Boil until softened, but not cooked through, about *8 minutes (see note). Drain carrots and immediately plunge into the ice water, swishing the carrots around with your hands to help stop the cooking process. When carrots are cold, drain them and pat dry. Set aside or refrigerate until needed.
The time required to blanch a given vegetable to reach the desired consistency depends largely on the width, age and overall condition of the vegetable before cooking. Generally, the older the vegetable (as with poultry and meat), the more cooking time it will need. So, a young carrot sliced 1/2-inch thick will require far less cooking than a more mature (wider) carrot which has a thick internal core.
To slice figs
Remove the hard stems from figs and slice fruit lengthwise into 1/4-inch wide slices. Cut each slice in half widthwise. You should net 1 rounded cup sliced figs.
To pan toast the walnuts
Melt 3 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat in a 12-inch deep-skillet. When bubbling, add walnuts and cook, stirring constantly until toasted and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Remove nuts with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Wipe skillet clean.
To sauté carrots
Return skillet to medium heat and add remaining 5 tablespoons butter. When melted and hot, add carrots and cook, stirring and tossing, until almost tender and beginning to caramelize, about 8 minutes. Reduce heat to low, stir in sliced figs and cook with carrots uncovered, for 3 minutes. Add toasted walnuts and cook until hot and the flavors mingle, about 3 minutes. Toss with chopped parsley and adjust seasoning (salt and pepper), as needed.
Pour into a warmed serving bowl and serve hot.
Timing is Everything
The carrots can be blanched 2 days ahead. After drying, line a bowl with paper toweling and add the carrots. Cover bowl well with plastic wrap and refrigerate.
The figs can be cut days ahead and kept covered at room temperature.