My ears always perk up when I hear the words brown butter, and I believe this is the first time I’ve noticed those words followed by vinaigrette. Yes, brown butter was the oil for this vinaigrette, and it was pureed with sherry vinegar and marcona almonds which gave it a thick, creamy texture. Not only did the vinaigrette in question sound enticing in this dish, there were also marinated carrots that were then grilled, and that marinade included smoked paprika, ground fennel, ground coriander, garlic, and fresh thyme. So, with brown butter, marcona almonds, and a great mix of spices, naturally, this was something I needed to try. This intriguing salad was created by Austin’s Bryce Gilmore of Barley Swine. He was chosen as a Best New Chef 2011 by Food and Wine, and this recipe appeared in last July’s issue. For a simple salad of carrots and arugula with chopped marcona almonds, there were some not-so-simple-at-all flavors at play.
The carrots are going to be grilled, so you’ll want to keep them whole if they’re tiny or slice them in half lengthwise. Baby carrots with tops are recommended in the recipe, but I used some pretty, little full-size carrots from my CSA and halved them all. To start, you make the marinade for the carrots with extra-virgin olive oil, smoked sweet paprika, ground fennel, ground coriander, thinly sliced garlic cloves, and fresh thyme sprigs. The sliced carrots were left to marinate for a couple of hours, and then they were grilled on a grill pan on the stove until crisp-tender and nicely marked. Next, butter was browned and then placed in a blender with sherry vinegar, marcona almonds, and a little water. That mix was pureed into a smooth, thick, delicious sauce. I added some extra water to thin it just a bit. The grilled carrots and baby arugula leaves were tossed with the brown butter vinaigrette, and the plated salads were garnished with chopped marcona almonds.
When something smells this good when it’s cooking, it’s usually not carrots, but as soon as they hit the grill pan, the lingering marinade was delightfully fragrant. And, the brown butter vinaigrette with marcona almonds? It did not disappoint. Now, I’ll be looking for ways to use both that marinade and vinaigrette in other dishes as often as I can.