This is a nice vegetarian first course. It does not have to be served in corn-on-the-cob dishes, but using them enhances its trompe l'oeil playfulness. Plastic gloves come in handy when spreading the goat cheese on the roasted carrots.
- For the carrot cobs
- 4 carrots, about 1 inch thick, peeled and tops trimmed
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 8 ounces goat cheese, preferably Montrachet
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped oregano
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped thyme leaves
- 1 whole scallion, finely chopped
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 5 cups fresh corn kernels (from about 5 large cobs)
- Bunch watercress, for garnish (optional)
- 2 tablespoons watercress, chopped flat-leaf parsley, or chives, for garnish (optional)
- For the lemon butter
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
For the carrot cobs: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Have ready a plate lined with paper towels.
Trim off enough of the root (smaller) end of the carrot to leave a 6-inch baton. Pare some carrot flesh from around the large end to create uniform cylinders roughly 3/4 of an inch in diameter. Roll them in the oil and place them on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast for 30 minutes, until slightly brown and fork-tender. Transfer to the paper towel-lined plate to cool completely, then roll on the paper towels to dry thoroughly. If not using immediately, transfer to a resealable container and refrigerate, covered. If necessary, pat them dry again before proceeding.
In a medium bowl, combine the goat cheese, oregano, thyme, scallion and salt and pepper to taste and mix well. Divide into 4 equal portions and, using your hands, completely encase each carrot baton in the goat cheese mixture. Roll the baton between your open palms to distribute the cheese evenly.
Place the corn in a medium bowl, separating the kernels. Roll each baton in the corn, pressing firmly to completely cover each carrot. (The carrots should resemble ears of corn.) Set aside the remaining corn (about 1 cup).
Increase the oven temperature to 450 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat liner. Lightly coat each cob with nonstick spray oil. Using the leftover corn kernels, make a bed in the center of the baking sheet and place the cobs on it about half an inch apart. Bake until the cobs are slightly browned, about 12 minutes.
For the lemon butter: Meanwhile, in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, melt the butter with the lemon juice, salt and pepper until bubbling and almost browned, about 3 minutes. Set aside.
To serve, when the carrots are done, carefully slide a spatula under each cob and transfer it to serving plates. (Don't worry if some of the corn and cheese comes off; with a spoon, scoop up baked corn from the baking sheet and use it to reshape the cobs.) Drizzle each cob with lemon butter and garnish with watercress, chopped parsley or chives, if desired. Serve hot.
Adapted from chef and former restaurateur David Hagedorn.
Tested by Tom Wilkinson.
Email questions to the Food Section at email@example.com.