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Carrot Flan with Microgreens and Lemon Vinaigrette

April 15, 2010

The opening weekend of the Ithaca Farmer’s Market was the first weekend of April, and I couldn’t have been more ready. This winter has felt particularly long to me — in part, I’m sure, because I was home-bound for so long caring for little Miss A when she was a newborn, but also because as a result of that intense period of care, I had to shelve many of my “hobbies” temporarily in order to focus on her. And I don’t say that with an ounce of regret — it was time well spent, of course, and I am completely in love with her :) — but after three and a half months of a baby-centric world, I was looking forward to dipping my toes back into the food world, being able to think about ingredients and shop for them at the market again, and just cook. The timing of the Market’s opening day worked out well: at a little over 4 months old, she’s in her “show me it all!” phase — always ready to see something new, watch me putter around the kitchen, and meet new people. So we journeyed down to the Market together, and while she enjoyed taking in the sights and sounds and people milling about, I was happy to reconnect with some of the vendors and farmers that I’ve gotten to know. (Plus, it was fun to introduce her to everyone who had seen me visiting their stands in a very pregnant state this past fall!)

West Haven Farm, a favorite of mine, had some gorgeous microgreens for sale, and the idea for this dish started when I saw them alongside some beautiful spring carrots.

One of my favorite dishes that I’d cooked while at The Culinary Institute of America for their Boot Camp Program was a carrot flan; there we served it as an accompaniment to poached fish, but I was looking to turn it into an appetizer in its own right. The delicate, crisp microgreens would be a perfect foil for the smooth, creamy flan, I thought; dressed with a light lemony vinaigrette punctuated with parsley, it’s a great starter for spring meals. If you can’t find microgreens, some delicate baby greens would do well as a stand-in.

The recipe is a straightforward custard, with the pureed carrots blended with eggs and a little cream, then baked in a water bath until set. The one thing to note is that the length of time and intensity with which you mix the ingredients does affect the final texture…I usually puree the carrots, then just whisk the eggs and cream in by hand, which gives the smooth, creamy texture of a custard. This past time, I tried mixing the pureed carrots together with the eggs and cream in a food processor — and the texture of the flans after they baked were lighter and fluffier, more like a mousse. I prefer the smooth, custard-like texture, but I’m just telling you this so you can make the call yourself, dear readers. Flan or mousse, whatever floats your boat.

I think I may try making a few other vegetable-based flans this spring; perhaps a spinach flan with a feta dressing? a spring pea flan with greens, chevre, and chives? Hurry up, peas! I’m waiting for you.

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Carrot Flan with Microgreens and Lemon Vinaigrette

Adapted from the Culinary Institute of America
Makes 6 individual servings

For the Flans:
Ingredients
12 ounces carrots (about 10 thin spring carrots, or enough to make 2 1/2 cups of chopped 1-inch pieces)
4 eggs
4 ounces (1/2 cup) heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Directions
Cook the pieces of carrots in boiling salted water until tender, about 8 minutes. Drain and puree in a food processor or blender until smooth, and let cool slightly.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Butter 6 3/4-cup ramekins.

Whisk the pureed carrots together with the eggs, heavy cream, salt and pepper. Divide the mixture among the buttered ramekins, and place the ramekins in a baking pan. Add enough hot water to the baking pan so that the water goes halfway up the sides of the ramekins.

Cover the pain with foil and bake until the custards are set and a knife inserted near the middle of one comes out clean (I found this took about 45 minutes in my oven, but you’ll want to start testing sooner.)

Remove the ramekins from the baking dish and let cool slightly before unmolding. I’ve served these both warm and cold; see directions below for serving.

For the Vinaigrette:
Ingredients
1/2 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon minced shallot
1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon peel
1/2 teaspoon honey
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped (optional)

Directions
Whisk together the lemon juice, lemon peel, shallot, mustard, and honey. Stream in the olive oil, whisking constantly, until an emulsion forms. Season well with salt and pepper, add the chopped parsley (if using), and store in the refrigerator.

To Assemble:
Place a handful of microgreens for each serving of flan in a large bowl. Drizzle some vinaigrette over the greens, season with coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, and toss to dress. Run a knife around the inside of the ramekins to loosen the flans, then invert them over a plate to unmold. Serve the flans topped with a handful of dressed microgreens and an additional drizzle of the vinaigrette.

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32 Comments leave one →
  1. April 15, 2010 6:07 pm

    Your carrot flan looks fantastic! Several months ago I had a savory pumpkin flan and I’ve wanted to make something similar ever since. I’ll have to give this recipe a try.

  2. hillary13 permalink
    April 15, 2010 6:32 pm

    This looks so excellent! We were at Market, too. Pure bliss :)

  3. April 15, 2010 6:37 pm

    So awesome to have you on the post with your little sweetie. She is looking great (as are you)! What a gorgeous plate. I *love* micro greens too. Hope Ithaca is getting prettier by the day :) xo

    • April 16, 2010 8:52 am

      Thanks Jen. :) Yep, Ithaca is turning into the beautiful spring/summer lady she is…leaves are unfurling, daffodils are blooming and birds are singing.

  4. April 15, 2010 7:55 pm

    Lovely dish and such simple ingredients! Baby is soooo cute.

  5. April 16, 2010 12:38 am

    What a gorgeous dish, Amy! And that baby – beautiful. I am jealous that your market is open and has some interesting things to buy. Seattle is still only offering potatoes, greens, and radishes.

    • April 16, 2010 8:50 am

      Hi Dana – we haven’t had any radishes yet; I’m hoping this weekend. :)

  6. April 16, 2010 7:50 am

    That is gorgeous! And I must say, I’m completely jealous that farmers markets are open in upstate NY and nowhere near me here in MA. What’s up with that? I want local produce!

  7. April 16, 2010 8:47 am

    I’m totally interested in this idea of a carrot flan – I’ve really just started to get on the flan bandwagon, but it just seems a lot more difficult then I am able to wrap my mind around. This looks fab though – I’m trying to get up the hoozba to try it out!

    • April 16, 2010 8:52 am

      Holly, you should give it a try! It is really simple – you may surprise yourself!

  8. Helen in CA permalink
    April 16, 2010 4:17 pm

    What darlings!

    (both the flan and your sweetie)

    What a toothsome little girl. Yummy!!!

    As for an older man for her: ya might wanna go check out Smitten Kitchen’s Jacob
    (nothing like having 2 amazing bloggers as mothers)

    Lovely girl

  9. April 18, 2010 6:32 pm

    I never knew you did the bootcamp program. So jealous! This looks gorgeous. The colors are so striking.

  10. April 18, 2010 10:19 pm

    What a beautiful dish! I went to the farmer’s market opening day too!
    I’m shopping around for CSAs, any suggestions that have pick up in Ithaca?

  11. April 19, 2010 6:17 am

    This looks gorgeous, I’ll definitely give it a go. I’d say it’d be lovely with beets and goats cheese and balsamic vinegar in the dressing! It’s a really nice recipe and what a cutie baby! She’s gorgeous!

  12. April 19, 2010 10:12 pm

    You always know how to make great use of the produce in your area. Something I need a lot of work on! :)

  13. lisa b permalink
    April 21, 2010 7:58 pm

    So happy to see the mkt open. Im in Owego and love to make the trip up to the Ithaca Mkt. I will most definitely try the carrot flan this weekend. Thanks for the inspiration!!

  14. April 22, 2010 8:44 am

    lovely picture of you two :) i’m always jealous of your farmers markets! this dish sounds absolutely wonderful, when i find some fresh carrots, i’ll have to give it a try!

  15. April 23, 2010 11:27 am

    It looks amazing!

  16. April 24, 2010 3:44 am

    You and your baby looked so sweet together! As for the recipe, I like it! Love the colors! Thanks for sharing.

  17. slowhomegrown permalink
    April 29, 2010 11:48 am

    That is beautiful! I love the idea of carrot flan, it just sounds like it would have a dreamy texture.

  18. April 29, 2010 10:59 pm

    This looks absolutely scrumptious! I was telling my husband about it today–he thinks I’m loony for dreaming about food but he never complains when I make something yummy. :) I’ll definitely have to try this.

    I found your site today when I did a search for chocolate peanut butter ice cream cake–I’m making yours for my son’s birthday on Saturday and I’ll let you know how it goes. He’s turning 2 and asked for a “chocolate milk cake” so hopefully this will hit the spot!

  19. May 3, 2010 7:03 pm

    oh wow, that looks great!

  20. May 8, 2010 6:56 pm

    The carrot flan looks fantastic! I can see why you like it, there’s nothing not to like. And your little one is SUPER cute!!

  21. Phoebe permalink
    May 9, 2010 9:27 pm

    Hi Amy, this is Phoebe of yoga and then of library book hour. I am an idiot. I have been reading your blog for months without realizing that it is YOUR blog. Today I logged in and thought “huh, why is there a picture of Amy and her little one on eggs on sunday?” Duh, because you WRITE it. Thanks for lots of good recipes!!!

  22. May 21, 2010 2:26 pm

    I was wondering if you would like free tickets to the Farm to Table conference on June 5 in Seneca Falls, NY? You can find more information here:

    http://www.pathwayswellnessprogram.com/finger_lakes_farm_to_table.html

    Let me know & I can mail them to you.

    Thanks! Erin

  23. June 2, 2010 9:14 pm

    First of all, what a cutie! She’s darling! Second, hurray for farmers’ markets! Ours lasts all year round in West Seattle, but it’s mostly a dried lavender and garlic market in the winter.

    I never would have dreamt of carrot flan, but it looks fantastic. Thanks so much for sharing!

  24. June 3, 2010 11:03 pm

    carrot flan?! Are you serious? O.K I love it already.

  25. June 4, 2010 10:29 am

    Nice light first course. Perfect. Beautiful dish.

  26. Corinne permalink
    June 7, 2010 10:47 pm

    This looks great! Do you think it would work if I substituted coconut milk or coconut cream for the heavy cream? I’m looking for a way to make this dairy free, and I’m allergic to tofu/soy. I think the flavor of the coconut would be delicious with the carrot and the texture. Have you ever tried it?

    • June 8, 2010 8:45 am

      Hi Corinne, I’d go for coconut milk – I bet that would be delicious! Maybe change up the lemon for lime juice, and sub cilantro for the parsley for a different twist on the flavors.

      • Corinne permalink
        June 9, 2010 11:30 pm

        Great idea about switching up the lemon for lime and parsley for cilantro. I’ll let you know how it goes!

  27. June 8, 2010 11:14 am

    What I can say was MMMMMMM…MmmmmmMMMmmmm! This recipe could be the answer to my headache to have my almost 4.5 year old boy to eat carrot! He eats green alright but not in their natural forms. The problem happened when he tends to choke even the smallest cut of vegetables which made discontinued his meal… not even a bribery worked!

    Thank you for sharing this recipe and other suggestions :-)

    pixen

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