It's been basically impossible to get a table at Via Carota since it opened nine years back. And prime West Village location, charming interiors, and Taylor Swift's proven penchant for the place aside, it's truly the food that's warranted its impenetrable popularity.
Looking for a little bit of the trattoria's deliciousness sans the wait? Take a cue from their menu, while knowing that no matter how detailed the recipe they'll always do pasta better than you, and let vegetables be the star.
Insalata di Cavoletti
- ¾ pound Brussels sprouts
- ½ cup Via Carota Vinaigrette
- 3 ounces of aged cheese, such as Castelmagn
- ¾ cup walnut pieces, toasted
- 2 sweet red apples, such as Gala
- 1 orange
- 3 tablespoons pomegranate seeds (from about a quarter pomegranate)
Rinse the Brussels sprouts and discard any wilted outer leaves. Use a paring knife to trim the base of each sprout. Gather any nice leaves that fall while trimming and pull off as many more as you can; when you get to the hard center of each sprout, slice it thinly with a sharp knife. Put all the leaves and slices in a large bowl with a large pinch of salt and 5 tablespoons of vinaigrette, tossing and working the vinaigrette into the Brussels sprouts with your fingers.
Use the tip of the paring knife or the tines of a fork to crumble the cheese into small pieces, and add them to the salad, along with the walnuts. Slice the apple into thick matchsticks and add half of them to the salad. Finely zest the orange directly over the bowl, then toss everything together. Let the salad settle for about 10 minutes. Add more vinaigrette and salt to taste and pile the remaining sliced apple and the pomegranate seeds on top.
Zucca in Agrodolce
- 1 small butternut or red kuri squash (1¼ pounds)
- Extra-virgin olive oil salt
- 1 medium red onion, thinly sliced (about i cup sliced)
- 2 dried bay leaves
- 1 cinnamon stick
- ½ cup aged sherry vinegar
- ½ cup water
- ¼ cup currants
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 3 tablespoons pine nuts, lightly toasted
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Cut the squash in half lengthwise. Rub the squash halves all over with olive oil, salt them well, and set on a baking pan. Roast until the squash halves are blistered in places and soft, 35 to 40 minutes. When cool enough to handle, scrape out the seeds with a spoon. Place a medium skillet over medium-low heat and lightly coat the bottom with olive oil (about 1 tablespoon). Add the onions, bay leaf, and cinnamon stick. Cook until the onions are beginning to soften, about 5 minutes. Stir in the vinegar, water, currants, sugar, and 1 ½ teaspoons salt.
Raise the heat to medium-high and simmer until the liquid is reduced by half, 2 to 3 minutes. Turn off the heat and stir in the pine nuts. Slice the squash about 2 inches thick and arrange on a platter. Spoon the marinade over the squash, distributing onions, currants, and pine nuts over the slices. Let stand for at least 15 minutes, or refrigerate for up to 24 hours. Consider making this ahead of time to let the flavors mingle. Serve at room temperature.
Insalata con Castelfranco
- 1 head radicchio Castelfranco (12-16 leaves)
- 8 leaves radicchio di Treviso salt
- 3 tablespoons Robiola
- Via Carota Vinaigrette
- 3 tablespoons hazelnuts, toasted and skinned
- 1 small spoonful fresh thyme leaves
- Tender tops flavorful wildflower honey
Combine the Castelfranco and other radicchio leaves in a large bowl, season with salt, and toss with dressing, mixing with your hands to coat the leaves thoroughly. Coarsely chop the hazelnuts. Sprinkle the salad with hazelnuts and thyme leaves and drizzle with honey.
Finocchi alla Cenere
- 2 large fennel bulbs salt
- 2 bay leaves, dried or fresh
- 1 large orange
- 3 tablespoons wildflower honey
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Juice from about half a lemon chili flakes, optional
Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil. Trim away the outer layer of the fennel bulbs if they're brown or scuffed. Cook whole fennel bulbs in boiling water until the tip of a knife can be easily inserted into the center (20 to 25 minutes). Drain in a colander and let them air dry for 10 minutes. Preheat a grill or grill pan to high and char the fennel thoroughly on all sides (or hold it over the flames on the stovetop, turning it with tongs as it blackens). Briefly grill the bay leaves. Peel a large strip of orange rind with a vegetable peeler and grill it for a minute or two to release its aromatic oils. Squeeze the juice of the orange (about ¼ cup) into a medium saucepan and add the honey, grilled bay leaves and orange peel, olive oil (about 1 tablespoon), and a squeeze of lemon; add a pinch of salt, and chili flakes if desired. Place over high and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Cut the fennel into wedges through the core, add them to the pan, and stir to coat them in the syrupy juice.
[Photos by Gentl and Hyers]