• 27°

Carrots can season your stew, sweeten your supper or be served up savory

If you’re no stranger to the kitchen, then you know that carrots are a pretty big deal in most recipes. Combined with onions and celery, carrots create the first layer of flavor in most soups. They’re always involved when a roast is slow cooked with potatoes in the crock pot. Two of the most common dishes my mom made with carrots were frozen mixed vegetables and boiled cabbage with carrots and potatoes. It’s easy to see that carrots play well with others but did you know they can stand on their own as a delicious dish?

Carrots taste sweet if eaten raw or cooked tender-crisp. They make great snacks, add color to stir fry, and provide needed crunch on salads. Carrots’ natural sweetness can be played up in different ways by cooking in orange juice or adding sugar. They can also lean toward the savory side. Roasted carrots with a balsamic glaze can forever change your idea of their role as a sweet veggie. Oh, and by the way, overcooked carrots lose their sweet taste and some of their nutrients.

Now, go buy some carrots! But first, let’s talk a little about what you’re going to see at the store or farmer’s market. Some carrots are sold with the tops attached. Fresh-looking tops mean the carrots have been harvested recently. Carrots should have a deep orange color unless you get a fancy variety that happens to be purple or white or something cool like that.

Avoid buying carrots that are split or odd shaped, have a lot of little roots, are oversized, or are very dark at the top end. Baby carrots are especially sweet and tender, but they may be more expensive.

If tops are still attached, twist or cut them off. Store in the refrigerator in a plastic bag, where they will keep up to two weeks.

Don’t forget to wash your carrots by running them under cold water and scrubbing them with a veggie brush. If you need a veggie brush, feel free to come to any of my programs at the Boyle County Extension Office and I’ll gladly get you one. Seriously, all you have to do is show up.

Lunch and Learn this month will be the Apple and Carrot Bake. This program will be on Wednesday, Oct. 19 at 12 noon. Did I mention it’s free? Well it is, this program is free and open to the public. Call (859) 236-4484 to sign up!

Ok, back to cooking with carrots. Here are some ideas for getting more carrots in your diet. You should want to get plenty of carrots in your diet because they’re good for you. Your eyes, immune system, heart and digestive system will thank you.

Grated raw carrot can be added to: slaw or salads;

muffin, cake, soft cookie or sweet bread batters;

meat loaf; meatballs; or spaghetti sauce; peanut butter, to be served as a sandwich filling.

After cooking carrots, try seasoning them with:

a little margarine and ginger; cinnamon or curry powder; a drizzle of honey or orange juice concentrate; or a splash of lemon juice.

Check out these recipes I’ve picked out for you. They’re pretty great. Don’t forget about Lunch and Learn on the 19th! Call (859) 236-4484 to reserve your spot.

If you have questions or comments about the column, or if you’d like more information feel free to contact me by email at thekitchenagent@gmail.com.

Email me and I’ll answer your kitchen questions. 

Roasted Carrots

Hot side dish for any combination of meals.

Ingredients

3 pounds small carrots (including greens; carrots about 5 inches long), tops trimmed to 1 inch and carrots peeled

2 tablespoons olive oil

Directions

Preheat oven to 500°F with rack in lower third.  Toss carrots with oil, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper and spread out in a large 4-sided sheet pan. Roast 20 minutes. Reduce oven to 325°F and roast, stirring occasionally, until carrots are browned and tender, about 25 minutes more.

fresh_carrot_slaw

Curried Carrot & Apple Soup

TIME: 1 hour

SERVES: 8 people

Ingredients

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 large onion, chopped (2 cups)

1 stalk celery, finely chopped

1 tablespoon curry powder

5 large carrots, peeled and thinly sliced (3 cups)

2 large apples, peeled and coarsely chopped (3 cups), peeled and coarsely chopped (3 cups)

1 bay leaf

4 1/2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth

1/4 teaspoon salt

Freshly ground pepper, to taste

2 tablespoons low-fat plain yogurt, for garnish (optional)

1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley, dill or basil for garnish (optional)

Directions

Heat oil in a large saucepan or medium soup pot over medium heat. Stir in onion and celery; cook until the onion is softened and translucent, 8 to 12 minutes; do not brown.  Stir in curry powder, then add carrots, apples and bay leaf. Stir well over medium heat for 2 minutes, then add broth and salt. Bring the mixture to a low boil, then reduce the heat to low. Cover tightly and simmer until the carrots and apples are tender, 20 to 25 minutes.  Remove the bay leaf. Using a large slotted spoon, transfer the soup solids to a food processor, adding about ½ cup of the broth; process to a smooth puree. Pour the puree back into the soup. Reheat and season with pepper. Serve piping hot, garnishing each serving, if you like, with a dab of yogurt and a sprinkle of fresh herbs.

Maple Glazed Turnips & Carrots

Delicious fall receipe featuring turnips and carrots.

Ingredients

12 ounces young turnips, 2 inches or less in diameter

1 large carrot, peeled

1/4 cup chicken stock or water

2 tablespoons butter

1 tablespoon grade A or B maple syrup

salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Scrub and peel the turnips and cut into quarters or sixths, depending on their size.  Slice the carrot at an angle into ½ inch-thick pieces.  Put the vegetables and stock in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil.  Cover and cook until the turnips are barely tender, about 7 minutes.  Reduce the heat to medium-high and add the butter and maple syrup.  Stir to coat the vegetables and continue to cook uncovered until the vegetables are glazed and beginning to caramelize around the edges, about 2 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper and serve.