Tuesday, June 25, 2024

The humble carrot takes center stage with an array of dishes

Carrots seem like such a simple, innocuous vegetable, but they’re actually quite a wonderful ingredient and lend themselves to a surprising array of interesting dishes.

They taste best when dug fresh out of the ground, but in lieu of that, look for young carrots with the greens still attached. As I’ve mentioned before, markets where you can buy direct from the farmer will yield the freshest flavors and best selection; “Know Your Farmer” is a good motto to live by, no?

Speaking of buying carrots – you know those “baby” carrots in a bag? Well, they’re not. They’re simply “adult” carrots cut down to size, which consumers like better for ease of use and appearance.

Native to Europe and southwest Asia, carrots have developed from being mostly whitish – like parsnips – into the rainbow of colors found today. That said, reference to purple carrots has been found as far back as the 10th century. And although they all taste pretty much the same, the many shades of orange and red, yellows, whites and purples make them, well, just more fun.

Even everyday orange carrots can be dressed up, though, by slicing them in different ways. Cutting them lengthwise into strips, leaving a bit of the stem and tops on or slicing them in long diagonals can change the appearance into something more exotic.

A scrumptious carrot souffle.
A scrumptious carrot soufflé.

Remember that baking or grilling carrots (and beets) makes them sweeter, in a rich, earthy way.

Carrot Soufflé

This is absolutely scrumptious, with a hint of sweetness that’s just right. Don’t substitute margarine for the butter! Halve the recipe to fit a pie pan.

  • ¾ cup butter
  • 1½ lbs. carrots, peeled & sliced (about 5¼ cups)
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • ¼ cup flour
  • ½ Tbsp. baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp. cinnamon
  • Pinch salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter a 1½ qt. baking dish. Steam carrots till tender but not mushy. Set aside. In a food processor or with a mixer, pulse eggs and sugar. Add flour, baking powder, cinnamon & butter; pulse till combined. (It’s OK if mixture is a little chunky.) Add carrots and pulse until mixed. Pour into prepared dish and bake until set, about 1 hour. (Shorten time for a smaller pan.) Knife inserted in center will come out clean. Serve immediately while warm.

Roasted Garlic Parmesan Carrots

Roasting brings out the carrot’s natural sweetness, and the cheese and garlic add a satisfying and crispy saltiness.

Roasting carrots brings out their earthy flavor.
Roasting carrots brings out their natural sweetness.
  • 2 lbs. carrots, peeled and halved or quartered lengthwise
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. minced garlic
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 Tbsp. Panko bread crumbs (or regular breadcrumbs)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Fresh chopped parsley or cilantro or fresh rosemary

Preheat oven to 400 F. Lightly grease or spray a baking sheet with cooking oil spray. Arrange carrots on baking sheet. Add the olive oil, garlic, parmesan, bread crumbs, salt and pepper. Toss all ingredients together to completely coat the carrots. Spread out and bake for 20-25 minutes or until tender, stirring with a spatula once or twice. Remove from oven, sprinkle with fresh herbs and serve immediately. – CaféDelights.com

Sweet ‘n’ Sour Cabbage, Carrot & Almond Slaw

Simple and delicious!

  • 6 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. honey
  • ½ tsp. Dijon mustard
  • Salt
  • 2-3 carrots, grated
  • 1 head Napa or white cabbage, shredded (or mix of purple and white cabbage)
  • ¾ cup sliced almonds, toasted

In a salad bowl, whisk together olive oil, vinegar, honey, mustard and a pinch of salt. Add carrots, cabbage and almonds and toss to combine. Makes 6 servings. – Rachel Ray

Carrot-Coconut Soup w/ Curried Shrimp

Make your unsweetened coconut “milk” at home by pureeing fresh coconut meat and water in a blender or food processor. It won’t be as thick but will taste just as good

  • 4 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 large white onion, chopped
  • 1¾ lbs. carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. ground coriander
  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • ½ lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 tsp. curry powder
  • 1/8 tsp. cayenne
  • ½ cup canned coconut milk (or homemade, see above)
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh chives or cilantro
  • Crema for garnish

In large pot, heat 2 Tbsp. olive oil over medium-high. Add onion; cook, stirring often, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add carrots and coriander; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until the carrots begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Stir in the stock; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium; cover and cook until the carrots are tender, about 15 minutes.

In a skillet, heat the remaining 2 Tbsp. oil over medium-high. Add the shrimp, curry powder and cayenne. Cook, turning once, until shrimp are opaque and whitish in the center, about 3 minutes.

In a blender or food processor, working in, puree soup with ¼ cup coconut milk. Divide among bowls; top with shrimp, fresh herbs and a drizzle of crema. – Rachel Ray

Janet Blaser of Mazatlán, Sinaloa, has been a writer, editor and storyteller her entire life, and feels fortunate to write about great food, amazing places, fascinating people and unique events. Her work has appeared in numerous travel and expat publications as well as newspapers and magazines. Her first book, Why We Left: An Anthology of American Women Expats, is available on Amazon. Contact Janet or read her blog at whyweleftamerica.com.

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