serves: 6 servings
Carrots are a nonappreciated standby. We tend to use them for everything but rarely highlight them. But this dish brings the sparkle out of carrots.
1½ pounds carrots
3½ cups water
1½ cups white vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
¼ cup pine nuts
¼ cup golden raisins
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
¼ teaspoon salt
1½ tablespoons fresh mint, finely shredded
Peel and trim the carrots and cut them into 3-inch lengths. Slice these lengthwise into wedges, all about 1/3-inch thick.
Pour the water, vinegar into a 3 or 4 quart saucepan and set over high heat. Stir in the honey. When the water's boiling, drop in the carrot wedges and cook uncovered, at a good bubbling boil for 25 to 30 minutes, until cooked through but with some texture to the bite. Don't let them get mushy.
Meanwhile toast the pine nuts in a dry skillet over medium heat, tossing them frequently until light gold; spill them onto a plate to cool.
When the carrots are cooked, lift them out of the pan with a spider; let them cool and drain in a colander. Keep the carrot cooking liquid at the boil and drop in the raisins; poach for about 5 minutes until plump, then lift them out and let them cool and drain.
Boil the vinegar liquid vigorously now to reduce quickly - it will take 5 minutes or more - until only a 1/4 cup or so of thick syrup remains in the pan. Lower the heat as the liquid level nears the pan bottom and pour it into a cup or small bowl before it burns.
Put the carrots in a mixing bowl and toss with 2 tablespoons of the syrup and several pinches of salt. Let them marinate briefly. Before serving, toss the carrots with a tablespoon of olive oil, the pine nuts, raisins and the shredded mint leaves. Taste and season with more salt; if you want more dressing, add more oil or any remaining syrup. Arrange on a serving platter or portion on salad plates.