The Carrot, Not the Stick

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In an ongoing effort to eat local produce, I am shifting my focus to root vegetables, namely carrots.

Local carrots (and other root veggies like parsnips, potatoes and sweet potatoes) are available in most farmers markets now through March due to their hardiness and ability to stay fresh in cold storage.

Carrots make great snacks: They are crunchy, slightly sweet, colorful and filled with vitamin A and beta carotene. Check any crudité plate — carrots tend to be the first thing nibblers grab.

But beyond that, carrots are wonderfully versatile. I’ve been roasting them to a caramelized glory, experimenting with a variety of flavors. The carrot slaw offers a twist on the traditional picnic salad, and I’ve also created a delicious carrot coconut cake to optimize these tasty autumn jewels.

roasted carrots
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Roasted Ginger Carrots

Serves 4 generously

These provide a delicious accompaniment to a chicken curry dinner. Roasting the carrots brings out a caramel sweetness and a soft, starchy texture that delivers an excellent substitute for a less-healthy carb. If you have leftovers, cut them up and toss them in tomorrow’s salad. Aim for similarly sized carrots with equivalent thickness to ensure even cooking. If needed, cut them.

See the note below for a lemony variation.

  • 2 pounds carrots, ends trimmed and cut to even thicknesses
  • 2 tablespoons mild-flavored oil like vegetable or canola
  • 1-inch piece of ginger, grated
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Generous sprinkle of fresh cracked pepper

Heat your oven to 350 degrees.

Place the carrots in a baking dish and toss them with oil. Add the remaining ingredients and toss again to distribute the seasonings.

Roast the carrots in the oven for 40 minutes until they are beginning to brown lightly on the edges and are soft through.

Variation for lemony carrots: Omit the ginger and turmeric. Grate the zest of one lemon over the carrots and roast as directed. When done, spritz with the juice of the lemon and serve.

Carrot Slaw

Serves 4

This dish evokes Israeli flavors with the lemon, parsley and cumin. It is refreshing on its own and makes a wonderful side to any roasted meat, poultry or fish main dish.

Be sure to make this at least 30 minutes before serving to allow the dressing to flavor the carrots. It keeps in the fridge for several days.

  • 1½ pounds carrots, grated
  • 1 scallion, finely chopped
  • ½ cup chopped fresh parsley

Dressing:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • A few sprinkles fresh ground pepper

In a medium-sized bowl, place the carrots, scallions and parsley; toss.

In a small bowl or measuring cup, mix the dressing ingredients. Toss over vegetables, let sit for 30 minutes or more and serve.

bundt carrot cake
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Carrot Cake

Makes 1 Bundt cake

This is a wonderful, simple cake that can be served with coffee for breakfast, with tea as an afternoon snack, as a lunchbox treat for the kiddies or, if you add the glaze, as a sophisticated and eye- catching dessert.

  • 1½ cups vegetable or canola oil
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1½ teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 cups shredded carrots
  • 1 cup raisins (optional)
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)
  • Glaze (optional)
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 2-3 tablespoons milk or water
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla

Heat your oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9-inch Bundt pan.

Beat the oil and sugar. Add the eggs and beat until creamy.

Add the flour, salt, cinnamon and baking soda and mix. Add the remaining ingredients and blend again.

Pour the mixture into a prepared pan and bake for an hour and 15 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Cool in the pan, unmold, glaze if desired and serve.

To make the glaze:

Mix all the ingredients in a small bowl. When the cake is completely cool, drizzle glaze artfully over the cake. (If the glaze is applied when the cake is warm it will melt.) l

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