Bonus #SundayCookingAdventures: Carrots with pistachio-herb butter

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About this time of year I start hunting around for holiday recipes. Although, of course, I cook the same favorites every year — yes, mac and cheese, candied sweet potatoes, you know the drill — I try to throw in one or two new dishes every year so it doesn’t get boring.

This carrot recipe is a contender for this Thanksgiving. It has some healthy elements, including pistachios and parsley. However, it also called for quite a bit of butter, which generally I don’t eat (I almost always switch in olive oil), but in 3 pounds of carrots, enough to serve up to 8 people, I cut the butter to 2 tablespoons, less than a teaspoon per person. I figure that’s not too bad for a few times a year.

The recipe calls for making the herb butter and wrapping it in plastic wrap. I pulled out the plastic wrap and left it attached to the box while I scooped the butter onto the wrap. The I pulled off the wrap from the box, spun it around, and tied the ends into a loose knot so it would stay together. I don’t know if it was the easiest way, but it worked, and my plastic wrap didn’t get all tangled up.

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Leave the plastic wrap attached to the box while you add the butter so it doesn’t get too messy and sticky.

A BIG plus for this recipe is you can make it ahead of time. Make the simple herb butter and put it in the freezer. Peel and cut the carrots and put them in an airtight bag in the refrigerator. The carrots take five minutes to cook once they’re prepped (which you did before you put them away). Take the butter out of the freezer and let it thaw in the refrigerator the night before and mix them together. That helps make holiday cooking easier.

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Tie it lightly in a knot after you spin it to make a log (or in my case, a ball).

I’ll be experimenting with some other sides and hopefully a lower sugar dessert or two as the holidays approach. If you have some healthier side dishes to share for the holidays, please share them on this page! I know, I know it’s early, but it takes time to try out and test all these dishes. Don’t tell me some of you aren’t Christmas shopping already…

This recipe came from the (current) Oct./Nov. 2014 issue of Fine Cooking Magazine. Here is the original link. I left out the salt and used unsalted pistachios because I don’t use much salt for health reasons. I also reduced the butter. Let me know how you like it.

Carrots with Pistachio-herb butter

1/2 cup roasted, shelled pistachios
1/2 cup lightly packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
1 Tablespoon packed fresh mint leaves
1 ounce (2 Tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 ounce finely grated parmesan cheese (1/2 cup)
1 teaspoon packed finely grated lime zest
4 to 6 drops hot sauce, such as Sriracha
3 pounds carrots, peeled and cut into pieces about 2 inches long and 1/2 inch wide.
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice; more as needed

1) Make the pistachio butter
Coarsely chop the pistachios in a food processor. Set aside half of the nuts. Pulse the remaining nuts until they are quite fine but not pasty. Add the parsley and mint, and pulse again until the herbs are finely chopped. Add the butter, cheese, zest, and hot sauce; pulse until well blended. If working ahead, scrape the butter onto plastic wrap, shape into a log, wrap, and freeze. Seal the reserved pistachios in a small zip-top freezer bag or other airtight container and freeze.

2) Cook and finish the carrots
Take the butter out of the refrigerator if made ahead. Combine the carrots in a 4-quart saucepan and add enough water to just cover. Cover the pan and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer and cook to your liking, about 5 minutes for crisp-tender.

Reserve about 1/4 cup of the cooking water, drain the carrots, and then return them to the pan. Add the butter in pieces and toss to melt and coat the carrots. Add the lime juice and some of the reserved water, if necessary. Season to taste with more lime juice. Serve topped with the reserved pistachios.

3) Make Ahead Tips
The butter can be made up to one month ahead and frozen (along with the reserved pistachios). Thaw the butter in the refrigerator for one day and bring the pistachios to room temperature.

The carrots can be peeled and cut up to two days ahead. Seal in a zip-top bag or other airtight container and refrigerate.

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