Delicate ribbons of “carrot noodles” are tossed in browned butter with parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme and topped with shrimp for a fresh, beautiful, and healthy meal.
Whelp, it’s that time of year again, when I go crazy and plant a million vegetables and try to keep them alive in the hundred degree summer and disease-encouraging humidity long enough to get something edible off them!
And then at some point in late summer when the cucumbers shrivel up and the squash vine borers have killed my zucchini and I can’t get my spinach to grow more than half an inch before wilting into nothingness, I might give up the whole game and be pleasantly surprised when my bell peppers, nestled among brittle leafless tomato skeletons and overgrown weeds, thrive and produce fruits well into November with no care at all.
Not speaking from experience or anything.
So a month or two ago I decided to clean all the old dead plants from last year out of the garden so I could plant something new. It mostly involved pulling up thousands of weeds and breaking up the bone-dry sticks formerly known as tomatoes, bell peppers, and eggplants. But this one overgrown patch I hadn’t thought about in about six months gave me quite the surprise.
The two squares of carrots I had planted last April were tall and leafy. Some had bolted and were sprouting flowers, and a couple even had several inches of woody looking root protruding above the soil. I really figured I had missed my opportunity to pull them up and use them, and that I probably should have pulled them up before winter if I was planning on eating them.
After all, if you leave radishes in the ground too long they get too spicy to eat, and if you leave squashes on the vine too long they grow a thick skin and become seedy. Having never grown carrots before, I figured they would certainly be woody and bitter by now.
With a little sadness and a resolution to make sure I actually used the vegetables I planted this year before they went bad, I pulled them all up so I could reuse the space.
A couple of them were massive and did look woody, as I had predicted. This giant one was hollow in places where it had split and been eaten or decomposed.
But the ones that hadn’t bolted … well, they looked like carrots.
Big fat gnarly lumpy colorful beautiful carrots.
And a couple that were so small that I wondered if they had reseeded themselves from the couple that had bolted.
Since I wasn’t expecting anything potentially useable when I pulled them up, I didn’t have any recipes planned or space in the fridge, so I threw them in a box of soil on the front porch for a couple weeks until I could think of something. It was like storing them in a root cellar and they saved beautifully! (If you do this, cut off the leafy parts first so they’re not disrupting the moisture balance in the soil – and wait until you want to use them to wash them)
I saw this recipe for rosemary butter carrot ribbons from Do You Even Paleo and thought something similar would be perfect for my multicolored roots. Her photos are so beautiful!
I could see it now, orange, yellow, and purple ribbons all tangled up in a pasta bowl, maybe with some shrimp on top.
So that’s exactly what I did! I saw somewhere that for overwintered carrots you have to peel off the tough exterior before you use them, but really just peeling off the skin like you would a normal carrot was sufficient. What was right underneath the surface was perfectly fine to eat. You might have a tougher exterior if you live somewhere colder, but we only got below freezing a handful of times.
Our cat, Pepper, was very curious about the carrots.
How to Make Carrot Noodles
Basically what you do to make your carrot noodles is:
- Peel the carrots with a vegetable peeler. Discard the outer peels. (not necessary for younger carrots, if they’re washed well)
- Keep peeling the carrots.
And that’s it. While you’re on step 2, rotate the carrot as you go so you have ribbons of approximately equal width. Use steady but light pressure (pressure that’s too firm will make your peeler stick).
When it becomes too hard to hold, you can lay the carrot flat on your cutting board and continue to peel, and when you get down to the very middle of the carrot, hold it and the peeler against the corner of your cutting board to get as much as possible out of it.
Continue until you have a nice big bowl of beautiful, colorful carrot ribbons. Three regular-sized carrots per person should be about right, but you can sort of eyeball it. I had a mixture of jumbo carrots and small ones and I think I used 7 total.
Sadly, the purple carrots were orange on the inside! So I only ended up with two colors of carrot noodles instead of three. I was so disappointed. It was like that time I bought purple bell peppers at the farmer’s market and they turned green when I cooked them. Pooh.
Once you’ve peeled them all, you’re done with the hardest part. Steam the carrot noodles (doesn’t it look like pasta?) in a steamer basket on the stove for about 5-8 minutes until they are nice and floppy and al dente when you taste one. No mushy carrots here.
Then, melt and brown some butter in a big pan — you melt it on medium heat and when the foaminess subsides, it should turn a nice toasty color which adds a delightful nuttiness to the flavor, but be careful not to burn it! I threw in some finely chopped fresh rosemary and thyme (also from the garden), along with some dried sage, and cooked half a pound of peeled shrimp in the butter sauce for about a minute on each side.
Toss the carrot noodles into the pan to coat them in the butter sauce and reheat them, and then you’re done! I figured if I added parsley I could call them Scarborough Fair Carrot Noodles, so I sprinkled some on top and called it a day.
Turns out parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme is a pretty good blend of flavors, especially with brown butter and homegrown carrots!
If I were to be completely accurate on how long this took to make, I’d have to say a year.
If you don’t grow your own carrots, it should only take a half an hour or so! It is so good and filling, and is a great option to cut a few carbs and eat a few more veggies. It really feels a lot like pasta and is paleo/gluten free in addition to being healthy, fresh, beautiful, and delicious.
There’s nothing more gratifying than making a meal out of something you grew yourself, especially from seeds! I still can’t believe I got these giant vegetables out of those tiny seeds I planted a year ago.
I even planted another batch of them this week. They’re supposed to be ready to pick in two and a half months (NOT a year).
I still have a few carrots left (mostly the smaller ones) in my makeshift root cellar/box of dirt, and I’m not sure what to do with them. It’s not enough for another full meal like this, but could make a side dish. Any ideas?
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Scarborough Fair Carrot Ribbons with Shrimp
- 6 large carrots (I used about 6 varying-sized carrots, from ginormous carrots to skinny/short carrots, since they were from my garden, but they probably equaled 6 normal large carrots)
- 3 tbsp butter
- 1 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
- 1/2 tsp chopped fresh thyme
- 1 tsp dried sage
- 1/2 tsp chopped parsley plus additional for garnish
- 1/2 lb shrimp peeled and deveined
- Kosher salt and pepper
- Peel any rough exteriors off your carrots. This is especially important if they are carrots that have been sitting in your garden all through the winter and they've toughened up. Discard peels so as not to confuse them with your carrot ribbons.
- Using your vegetable peeler, continue peeling the carrots to make long carrot ribbons. Try to go the full length of the carrot, and continue rotating the carrots as you peel so that you get ribbons of even width. Use light but consistent pressure. You can hold the carrot flat on a cutting board while you peel to make it easier as the carrot gets smaller. When you get to the center of the carrot, you can get a couple extra peels off it by holding your peeler on the carrot against the edge of your cutting board or table. Continue until you have made all your carrots into long thin ribbons. You should have about 4 cups of carrot noodles but you can just eyeball it.
- Fill a large saucepan with about an inch of water and place a metal vegetable steamer in it. Bring to a boil, add carrots to the steamer basket, and reduce heat to a simmer. Cover the saucepan and steam for 5-8 minutes, or until carrot ribbons are "al dente," rearranging once or twice so that all the carrots get equal exposure to the steam (you can't exactly stir them). Remove carrots from steamer and set aside.
- Sprinkle shrimp with salt and pepper and toss to evenly distribute.
- In a sauté pan, melt 3 tbsp butter over medium high heat. Butter will melt, foam, and brown. Make sure it gets brown but doesn't burn - the browning adds a lovely depth and nuttiness to the flavor. When it is brown, reduce heat to medium low and add herbs.
- Add shrimp and cook for one minute on each side. Add carrots, toss to combine, and cook for an additional minute or two. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve garnished with parsley.