Just in time for the holiday roasting season, sweet little Thumbelina carrots are popping up at farmers markets across L.A. County.
Unlike their long slim cousins, this variety is a stubby little globe the size of a baby new potato and is sweet with herbaceous undertones. It has a deep orange outer skin with small circular ridges throughout the carrot, and it pairs beautifully in the roasting pan with other mini root vegetables such as breakfast radishes and beets.
“We’ve been growing Thumbelina carrots for about 17 years,” Cathy Dominguez of Underwood Family Farms tells L.A. Weekly at the Culver City Farmers Market.
“They’re one of six different varieties that we grow at the farm. Craig Underwood got interested in growing them because we do a lot of heirloom varieties and vegetables we haven’t seen in a while that used to be popular and what you just won’t find in the normal grocery store.”
Also referred to as French market or planet carrots, Underwood grows them on its “pick-your-own farm” and does a lot of school tours for kids from Ventura and L.A. counties in addition to servicing 17 markets each week.
“For the traditional long carrots, you need a pitchfork or a shovel to dig them out,” says Dominguez, who likes to roast the Thumbelinas together with her chicken and little potatoes in the same pan. “These are really easy for the kids to pull out. It’s successful — you don’t just get a handful of greens.”
We in the L.A. Weekly test kitchen like to toss them together with breakfast radishes, red and yellow beets, baby new potatoes, fresh thyme, olive oil and salt. Roast them in an even layer at 350 degrees for 40 minutes and serve hot on top of baby pea tendrils. If you’re feeling cheesy, sprinkle with grated Parmesan or crumbled goat cheese.
They also are available from Milliken Family Farms.