Melbourne Food News

Carrots - choosing and using

SEASONAL PRODUCE / 13-11-2017

Root vegetables are one of the largest groups of vegetables and perhaps one of the least utilised. It includes parsnips, swedes, turnips, celeriac, Jerusalem artichokes, kohlrabi and of course carrots.

Carrots have risen to the top of the pile and have become the go-to vegetable for a multitude of uses. It is hard to imagine making a pot of soup, a stir-fry, a casserole or a stock pot without them.

They also are perfect for cooking alongside a roast chicken or simple to slice, boil and serve alongside any steak, veal schnitzel or steamed salmon.

Baby carrots are also excellent grilled or roasted then served with a dollop of ricotta or goats' curd on top. Middle-Eastern style carrot salads are also hugely popular with home cooks and restaurant chefs. 

Buying

Avoid withered vegetables and overly large specimens, as these are often woody. Good carrots should have a deep, earthy aroma and be firm and appealing to the eye. In recent times growers have done an amazing job at bringing back ancient varieties in a appealing range of colours including red, purple, deep orange and yellow. 

Storing and preparing
Carrots can be kept in a cool dark place for 2–3 days or in the crisper section of the refrigerator for 5–6 days. Prepare carrots by peeling skins and cutting into even sized pieces. 

Eating
Virtually all root vegetables can be roasted, boiled and pureed successfully.

Five things to do with root vegetables
1. Deep-fry wafer thin slices of carrot to make chips with a difference.
2. Roast carrots with olive oil, salt and freshly ground black pepper.
3. Make vegetable soup with diced root carrot, vegetables and barley.
4. Sprinkle carrots with Worchester sauce and honey, then roast.
5. Serve steamed carrot wedges with roast duck.

Middle-Eastern carrot salad
Prepared in this way they are good as part of a Middle Eastern mezze plate, or as a side dish to dinner.

4 carrots
Olive oil for cooking 
1–2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp sweet paprika
1/2 lemon

Preheat oven to 180C (350F).

Peel carrots and cut into slices.

Heat a heavy-based frying pan over medium heat.

Add enough oil to cover base of the pan, add cumin seeds and carrot slices.

Cook until golden.

When all are ready, toss in sweet paprika and bake in preheated oven until tender.

Squeeze lemon juice over to serve.

Allan Campion

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