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Mexican steamed carrots with vanilla: Zanahorias al vapor con vainilla by Karen Hursh Graber © 2000

Among the most charming presentations of any vegetable, these herb-wrapped bundles of baby carrots are a specialty of Cuetzalan and the surrounding mountain towns. Served by the locals, the carrots are enveloped in taro leaves; however, the dish may be successfully prepared using spinach leaves instead. The fragrant split vanilla beans, carefully counted out into bundles of 260 pods apiece called mazas, are the most highly prized for use in this recipe. Even regular vanilla beans are guaranteed to make this much more than an uninspired vegetable side dish.


  • 2 pounds baby carrots
  • 4 vanilla beans, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 8 large, outside spinach leaves
  • 1/2 cup butter, cut into 8 pieces

Divide the carrots into 8 equal portions and arrange each portion on a spinach leaf.

Place a piece of vanilla and a pat of butter onto each portion, roll into a packet and tie each with a piece of kitchen twine.

Place in a steamer basket and cook over high heat 20-25 minutes, or until carrots are tender.

Serves 6.

Link to source articles
The carrot: A year-round Mexican resource
Vanilla: a Mexican native regains its reputation


Published or Updated on: July 1, 2000 by Karen Hursh Graber © 2000
Contact Karen Hursh Graber

Follow Karen as she travels through the Central Mexican state of Puebla, meeting local cooks, tasting the food, and collecting recipes. With over 75 recipes, plus sections on ingredients and cooking techniques, the book takes the reader on a journey through one of Mexico's oldest and most renowned culinary regions. It can be ordered online.

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