Though carrots often make it into the Easter feast lineup, I've never understood why. Maybe it's a nod to the Easter bunny.
Typically, we prepare carrots the same way we prepare sweet potatoes (their distant orange cousins) at Thanksgiving — by glazing them and otherwise shoveling on extra sugar.
But I think I've figured out a way to redeem them. The trick is to take advantage of their length and texture. Long, sturdy carrot peels are reminiscent of individual strands of fettuccine, so let's prepare them as we would, say, a dish of fettuccine Alfredo — by dressing them with a creamy sauce.
Not coincidentally, it's a strategy that also allows the carrot's natural sugars to shine.
Start with big, long, fat carrots (affectionately referred to by some grocers as "horse carrots"). Peel off and discard the outermost layer, then continue peeling on all sides until you've reached the woody core. I find it easiest to start at the middle of the carrot and peel down the bottom half, then flip it over and peel the top half. This technique allows you to do the job faster than if you peeled the entire length of the carrot from top to bottom. The cores are too thin and hard to peel. Munch on them or reserve them for a future stock.
The sauce for this "fettuccine" is quite simple. It's based on Neufchatel, the French cream cheese that provides the creaminess we crave yet has one-third less fat than most other types of cream cheese.
The carrot's natural sweetness is counterbalanced with lemon, both the zest and juice, though lime would work just as well. Walnuts add crunch, a nutty taste and some nutrition.
The carrot fettuccine strands cook up very quickly — inside of five minutes — so prep them ahead of time and measure out all the rest of the ingredients. Once the strands are cooked, move them out of the pan and onto plates before they go soft.