All About Carrots
Photo from http://www.carrotmuseum.co.uk/carrotcolours.html, which cites "Photo compliments of USDA Agricultural Research Service, where researchers have selectively bred carrots with pigments that reflect almost all colours of the rainbow. Photo by Stephen Ausmus, USDA."
Carrots can be orange, red, purple, yellow, white, or black. Select carrots—of any color—with deep color and shine rather than with dulled color. The carrots should be firm, not pliable or pitted. If the greens are attached, their vibrancy, green color, and lack of wilting also indicate freshness.
Carrots picked when still young and tender plate beautifully but generally taste less sweet. As carrots spend more time in the ground, particularly in cold temperatures, they develop more sugar. Since they are also growing while in the ground, larger-diameter carrots tend to taste sweeter.
Remove carrot tops immediately. The greens are edible but should be used quickly, as they are highly perishable. For brief storage of the greens keep them bagged separately from the carrots and refrigerated. Carrots are best stored at 33-50⁰F and with 90% humidity. For short-term storage, keep unwashed carrots in the fridge in a perforated plastic bag. Store away from fruits such as apples and pears that produce ethylene gas as they ripen.
For storage up to a five or six months, unwashed carrots can be buried in sand and kept at 33-50⁰F.
Cut away the stem end if it is green and scrub the carrots. Peeling is unnecessary but may be preferred, especially if the carrots were not grown organically. Carrots are delicious raw or cooked through by virtually any method: steamed, boiled, roasted, grilled, sautéed, even fried (think of tempura or carrot fritters). They are an important component of mirepoix (chopped onions, carrots, and celery), which, when sautéed, is often the base for soups or stews. I just learned that Germany has its own version, Suppengrün, which translates as "soup greens," a mixture of carrots, celeriac, and leeks.
PUTTING UP CARROTS
Carrots can be prepared for long-term storage through blanching-and-freezing, pickling, fermenting, or canning. Recipes that include carrots as a cooked ingredient, such as stews or soups, can generally also be frozen.
Makes 6 Servings
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup red onion cut into 1/4-inch dice
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons fresh minced ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon paprika
- Pinch cayenne pepper, optional
- One 32-ounce carton all-natural vegetable broth (4 cups)
- 2 cups carrot juice
- 1 pound carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 small 10-ounce sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
- Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven or saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, about 7 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger, pepper, paprika, and cayenne as desired (remember, just a pinch), and cook an additional 1 minute.
- Stir in the broth, carrot juice, carrots, and sweet potato. Cover, raise the heat, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until the vegetables are very tender, about 25 minutes. Stir in the lime juice.
- Let the soup cool slightly. Transfer to a blender and puree in batches until very smooth and creamy. You can also use an immersion blender to puree the soup. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish (see tip below).
Garnish Idea: Toast up thin slices of French bread, and spread a thin layer of soft goat cheese on top. Place on soup, sprinkle with chives, and drizzle with a bit of honey as desired.
Nutrition Information per Serving (1 generous cup): 150 calories, 5g fat (0.5g saturated), 410mg sodium, 23g carbohydrate, 4g fiber, 3g protein, 590% vitamin A, 30% vitamin C
Liz Weiss, MS, RDN and Janice Newell Bissex, MS, RDN are The Meal Makeover Moms, and together, the dietitian duo is on a mission to help busy families eat better. For more recipes, check out their new app, Meal Makeovers, their cookbook, No Whine with Dinner, read their blog, Meal Makeover Moms’ Kitchen, or listen to their free radio podcast, Cooking with the Moms.
Classic Carrot and Raisin Salad
I grew up on the classic carrot, raisin and mayo salad. It was a staple at backyard barbecues. For special occasions, my mom would toss in some walnuts. Now that was special!
This summer when my refrigerator was overflowing with sweet, crisp carrots, I searched the web and found this delightful collection of alternatives. I recommend giving my family recipe and some of these new variations a try. Your eyesight will be thankful!
3 – 4 cups grated carrots
1/2 – 1 cup raisins, golden or red
1 large apple, cored and chopped into small chunks
1/4 to 1/3 cup mayonnaise
A small dash of nutmeg, if desired.
Salt and pepper to taste
Gently combine all ingredients. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Linda Levin, a LexFarm member, CSA share holder and Board Member, has been trying to eat locally and seasonally for the past two years. Her household currently consists of just her and her husband as the four children are in their twenties and not at home so they split their CSA share with another LexFarm member. As she has discovered, eating locally throughout the year requires preserving some of the season’s bounty, to which she is new, and signing up for one of the many winter shares available in the area. The effort is worthwhile, however, as the tastes and smells of “real food” provide such joy in the kitchen!
More Ideas for Carrots
Roasted vegetables are terrific for potlucks and picnics because most taste so good at room temperature. Roasting carrots concentrates their sweetness; they become addictive as an hors d'oeuvre and look pretty served with roasted cauliflower and green beans, zucchini, or asparagus. See how easy it is to roast carrots? For more exotic flavors, try roasting them with pomegranate molasses or red curry paste.
Make pancakes! Some possibilities are gingered carrot lakes or carrot pancakes with salted yogurt. Jackie has made Mark Bittman's recipe for savory chick pea pancakes (tortillitas) with or without the shrimp and with every sort of vegetable substituted in for shrimp. She likes to use half chickpea flour and half whole wheat flour. Carrots are a nice addition (some other favorites are beet greens, spinach, sauteed mushrooms or cabbage). Don't forget the salt: half a teaspoon of salt or a bit more seems to work well. These are great for nibbling as hors d'oeuvres for guests or a very quick weeknight meal.
Roasted carrots are the base for an amazing carrot almond pesto which you can serve with pasta, quinoa, or even as a dip.
Grated raw carrots make delicious salads. What about the very simple (just 4 ingredients) raspberry-marinated carrots or the classic French grated carrot salad, carrottes rapée.
You can also make salad from cooked carrots, like carrot almond salad. You could substitute green beans when asparagus is out-of-season.
If you liked Liz's soup and want to branch out, make carrot-tomato soup (a recipe from the wonderful Seattle restaurant Cafe Flora). It is very easy to make, freezes well, and is kid-friendly. Or ivory carrot soup with a fine dice of orange carrots from Deborah Madison's Vegetable Literacy looks wonderful.
We suggested chapchae in week 1 to try with greens. Carrots are standard in this recipe, and you can also use any cooking greens arriving at that time. Mushrooms seems available from Pennsylvania year round or you could use dried ones. The stir fry part could be served on other noodles or rice and is a great two pot meal that can be vegan or include meat.
Another quick weeknight dinner is curried carrots and lentils, which is even better if you have time to make homemade curry powder. Similar ingredients give rise to this quinoa lentil bowl.
If you are in the mood for pasta, make pasta with carrots, risotto-style.
Take a weeknight trip to Morocco with some Moroccan carrots on your table. There are so many variations, like this and this and this (if you don't have preserved lemon and can wait for 3 hours, you can make this quick substitute). Add some chickpeas for this Moroccan carrot salad.
Pair carrots with leeks in these quesadillas.
Make a pizza! Carrots top za'atar carrot and leek flatbread with almonds and fennel salad.
Carrots are easy to pickle. If you pickle the carrots with daikon, you have a key ingredient for making a delicious banh mi sandwich.
Add carrots to your baked goods, like soda bread, muffins, or a quick bread loaf. In this spiced carrot-zucchini bread, toasting the walnuts before chopping them enhances their flavor, and more generous amounts of carrots and zucchini work well too (e.g. 1 cup each). If you have no zucchini on hand, omit it and double the carrots. Since you've already got your grater out, grate a small apple in place of up to 1/2 cup sugar.
This radish-carrot date nut bread is recommended by CSA shareholder Caitlin Sweeney.
Carrots work in all courses, so don't forget dessert. What about a carrot cake with cardamom , carrot oatmeal cookies, or combine the two with inside-out carrot cake cookies.
EATING THE WHOLE VEGETABLE
Again, don't discard the greens. You can turn them into wonderful condiments to complement roasted carrots or grilled fish or meat. Try carrot-top chimichurri, pesto, or gremolata.