Carrots belong to the Umbelliferae family, named after the umbrella-like flower clusters that plants in this family produce. As such, carrots are related to parsnips, fennel, parsley, anise, caraway, cumin and dill. Carrots can be as small as two inches or as long as three feet, ranging in diameter from one-half of an inch to over two inches. Carrot roots have a crunchy texture and a sweet and minty aromatic taste, while the greens are fresh tasting and slightly bitter. While we usually associate carrots with the color orange, carrots can actually be found in a host of other colors including white, yellow, red, or purple. In fact, purple, yellow and red carrots were the only color varieties of carrots to be cultivated before the 15th or 16th century.
The carrot can trace its ancestry back thousands of years, originally having been cultivated in central Asian and Middle Eastern countries, along with parts of Europe. These original carrots looked different from those that we are accustomed to today, featuring red, purple, and yellow coloring rather than the bright orange that we've become accustomed to in U.S. supermarkets. Carrots became widely cultivated in Europe during the 15th and 16th centuries and were first brought over to North America during this same general time period.
Carrots are perhaps best known for their rich supply of the antioxidant nutrient that was actually named for them: beta-carotene. However, these delicious root vegetables are the source not only of beta-carotene, but also of a wide variety of antioxidants and other health-supporting nutrients.
Carrots generally taste best when recently harvested. Cut off the tops, and keep the carrots in the crisper for up to two weeks. Carrot tops make nice additions to homemade veggie/chicken broths for soup.
Glazed Carrots and Ginger
This simple recipe is one of my favorite carrot side dishes...and so easy! Carrots and ginger are a match made in heaven, and can accompany a variety of cuisines.
- 20 baby carrots (about 1/2 pound), peeled but with 1-inch green top left on
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon honey
- One 3-inch-by-1/2-inch-piece ginger, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch-thick matchsticks
- 1/2 teaspoon thinly sliced red chili pepper
Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add carrots; cook until just tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Drain carrots; pat dry with paper towels.
Melt butter in a large skillet set over medium-low heat. Add the carrots, honey, and ginger, and cook, turning carrots frequently, until carrots and ginger are browned, about 8 minutes. Add the chili pepper, and continue to cook until chile is softened, about 1 minute more. Remove from heat, and serve.
Puffed Carrot Casserole
- Vegetable-oil cooking spray
- 2 pounds carrots (about 15), cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 1 cup packed brown sugar
- 4 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1/2 pound (2 sticks) butter, melted
- 2 tablespoons baking powder
- 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 2-quart casserole dish with cooking spray. Put carrots in a saucepan, and cover with water by 2 inches. Bring to a boil; reduce heat; simmer until tender, 35 minutes. Drain; mash carrots with a potato masher.
Stir in flour, brown sugar, eggs, butter, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Pour into prepared dish. Bake for 1 hour.
Carrot Salad with Parsley, Lovage, and Mint
Carrot salad is a winter staple at the farm, a breath of freshness during the cold months. Deborah Madison's recipe from her Local Flavors cookbook is simple and tasty. Lovage is a little like celery. It's leaves look like celery leaves and share a clean pungent taste. Celery can be substituted for lovage in the recipe, the substitution possibilities are endless.
Yield: About 4-6 servings
1 pound carrots
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
2 tablespoons chopped lovage
2 tablespoons chopped mint
sea salt and pepper
zest and juice of 1 lemon
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
Peel, then grate the carrots. Toss with the chopped herbs and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Add 1 tablespoon lemon juice, the zest, and just enough oil to coat the carrots lightly. Season with pepper and chill before serving if time allows.
This recipe is from Vegetariana and comes highly recommended from Connie, a garden member.
3 cups thinly shredded white or red cabbage
2 medium carrots, coarsely grated
Juice of 1 lemon
½ cup toasted sunflower seeds
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1 cup parsley dressing
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix thoroughly. Chill before serving.
Cheesy Turnips and Carrots
This recipe comes from CSA garden member Wendy Manganiello. It is a great recipe for vegetables that will be coming into season soon.
3 cups diced peeled turnips
2 cups sliced carrots
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 cup water
1 teaspoon salt, divided
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup diced celery
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 1/2 cups milk
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
In a saucepan, combine turnips, carrots, ginger, water and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cover and cook over medium-high heat for 10-15 minutes or until vegetables are tender; drain and reserve liquid. Set vegetables aside. In a skillet, saute onion and celery in butter until tender; stir in flour, pepper and remaining salt. Add milk and the vegetable liquid; bring to a boil. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Stir in cheese until melted; stir in the vegetables and heat through.