Food & Recipes - Eat your carrots!

Carrots are versatile, nutritious and high in fibre. Below has some useful tips and recipes utilising her favourite vegetable. CARROTS have always been and will probably always be my favourite vegetable. They can be eaten in countless varieties. You can chop, boil, fry or steam them, cook them in soups and stews as well as in baby foods.

You can use grated carrots in carrot cakes, puddings and muffins. In salads, they add a colourful zest to your dinner plate. Lately available in supermarkets are baby carrots, which are often more tender, though have less flavour because of their immaturity.

They are excellent as snack food, and a good alternative for dips instead of chips or breads.

Carrot juice is also widely marketed, especially as a health drink, offered in fresh fruit outlets, blended together with different fruits and vegetables. Carrots are an excellent source of antioxidant compounds and the richest vegetable source of the pro-vitamin A carotenes. Note that a lack of vitamin A can cause poor vision.

They are also rich in dietary fibre and minerals. Just a single, full-sized carrot fulfills an adult’s daily rate of essential vitamins. Carrots once came in almost every colour: red, black, yellow, white, but not orange! They were first cultivated in Afghanistan, having purple exteriors and yellow flesh. In the Middle Ages the Dutch developed today’s bright orange carrot.

To prepare carrots for eating raw or cooking, wash and gently scrub them with a brush. If the carrots are not organically grown, or old and thick, you should peel them, since most conventionally grown carrots are grown using pesticides and other chemicals.

Also cut off the stem if it is green, as it will give a bitter taste. A good thing about cooking carrots is that the beta-carotene is not destroyed by the cooking process.

But be sure not to overcook them to ensure that they retain their maximum flavour and nutritional content.

Here are three favourite carrot recipes:

1. Carrots and potatoes in a mustard-cream sauce

You will need:
  • 500g potatoes, peeled and cut in quarters
  • 500g carrots, peeled, cut in little sticks about half a centimetre wide
  • 200ml whipped cream
  • 150ml milk
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 4 tsp mustard (preferably Dijon mustard)
  • 50g capers
  • salt, pepper to taste
  • a few basil leaves

In a saucepan, mix whipped cream and milk. Add salt and bring to boil over medium heat.

Add the potatoes and let them cook for about 10 minutes. Add carrots and let all cook together for another 5-7 minutes, until potatoes and carrots are almost soft.

Drain the veggies in a sieve, but saving the milk-cream liquid in a separate dish.

Mix the egg yolks with the mustard and 4-5 tablespoons of the milk-cream liquid until creamy.

Bring the rest of the milk-cream liquid to a boil over medium heat. Whisk the egg yolk mixture carefully into the milk-cream liquid until smooth.

Mix the capers into the sauce.

Lastly, place the veggies carefully into the creamy sauce. For garnish, place the basil leaves on top of the dish.

2. Carrot and orange soup

You will need:
  • 500g carrots
  • 30g butter
  • 125ml orange juice, either freshly pressed, for a better flavour, or from the carton
  • 1.25 litre vegetable stock
  • 1 small onion, roughly chopped
  • 3-4 tsp chopped fresh thyme, or 1 tsp tried thyme
  • Salt and pepper
  • Sour cream and nutmeg for serving

Peel and slice the carrots. Place them in a pan with the butter and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the orange juice, stock and onion.

Bring to the boil, add thyme, salt and pepper. Reduce heat, cover and cook for 20 minutes or until the carrots are tender.

Allow to cool. Process the mixture in a blender until smooth. Return to the pan and reheat. Serve in individual bowls.

Alternatively, chill and then serve. Top each with a dash of sour cream sprinkled with nutmeg. Garnish with a small sprig of thyme.

3. Carrot-mint-sauce

Either as a side dish with meat, or as a refreshing dip with corn chips, etc.

You will need:
  • 250g carrots, roughly sliced
  • 1 onion, roughly diced
  • 1 apple, roughly diced
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 200ml milk
  • 1 tbsp sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp coriander
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup of fresh mint

Put the carrots and onions into a pan. Cover with water and boil over medium heat for about 10 minutes. Drain the water and put carrots, onions, apple together with the milk into a blender. Add seeds, coriander, salt pepper and fresh mint, keeping back a few mint leaves for garnish. Blend until smooth.