After potatoes, carrots are without doubt the best-known and most popular root vegetable of all.The carrots we eat today were developed from the wild carrot but until the Middle Ages carrots eaten in this country were purple – orange carrots were imported from Holland in the 17th and 18th Centuries. Carrots have many different flavours depending on how they are cooked and they can be cooked in almost any way you choose. They can be intensely flavoured and sweet, fresh and clean tasting, savoury, fragrant, and rich. They contain large amounts of carotene and are a good source of Vitamin C and fibre.
Preparing and Using
When buying carrots look out for very young pencil thin carrots, which are beautifully tender when eaten raw or when lightly steamed and served as a vegetable. Older carrots should be firm and unblemished. Valuable nutrients lie in or just below the skin so if the carrots are young simply wash them before use. Medium sized ones will need to be scraped and older ones probably need to be peeled. Vegetable processors can provide washed and peeled ready to use carrots in a variety of shapes including slices, batons, juliennes, dice and shredded. Alternatively an appliance such as a Robot Coupe will make light work of slicing and shredding a large volume of carrots.
Carrots can be cooked in almost any way you choose or eaten raw, chopped or grated into salads, for example. They can be boiled,steamed, stir-fried, and deep fried, braised,glazed, and are delicious roasted in the oven with a selection of other root vegetables.Carrots can be sliced into a variety of shapes,garnishes and crudités and can be used to make carrot juice, which is delicious when mixed with an equal volume of fresh apple juice.
Apart from serving them simply buttered and garnished with parsley, carrots can be puréed,(on their own or with turnip or parsnip), served in a cream sauce, served au gratin or dauphinoise. They will provide beautiful colour and bite (when blanched and refreshed) to a bouquetiére of vegetables.
Carrots are used in numerous dishes –starters, main courses and desserts,traditional, ethnic and vegetarian. They are used in terrines, stews and stir-fries.They add a rich dark colour to plum pudding and Christmas cake and add moistness and flavour to carrot cakes.Good flavour combinations for carrots include:honey, orange, coriander, cider, apple, walnut,mustard, parsnip, turnip, curry powder, cumin,thyme, wine and basil.