How To Eat A Carrot

The other day an unexpected package arrived. I could smell the fresh cedar shavings as soon as I ripped the tape from the cardboard, and wondered what living creature I was about to liberate. I opened the inner bag and amidst the wood curls, were not hamsters but a family of carrots – beautiful, asymmetrical carrots, some with kinks in their sides and twists in their tails. They were purple, yellow, orange and almost-red. They were burrowed deep in their shavings and still robust after their journey.

“I’ve picked some carrots for you from our farm,”  Rick an an unimaginably kind reader of The Sweet Beet, wrote in an email. Being given carrots, especially quirky carrots (!) yanked from the earth with so much love, from someone you’ve never met, is beyond heart warming. Those shiny little “baby” things we buy bagged and hospital-sanitized don’t even come close to the richness of these.

Rainbow Pride – a variety that’s originally from Africa and bred to be heat and drought tolerant. They’re exclusive to Rick’s farm – Machado Farm in California.

The other thing I love about them is they’re begging to be roasted, which means they basically get turned into dessert, which means I get to indulge my sugar need (very much alive,  just beaten into submission) without resorting to the Van Leeuwen ice cream truck, parked two torturously close blocks from me, for the next three hot months.

So I roasted the carrots (or you could grill them) and then coated them with three of my favorite flavors – dill, ginger and garlic to get Summer Roasted Carrots with Yogurty Dill and Ginger. The carrots are sweet, the dressing is cool and they look great on a table. And no, you don’t need precious carrots to create this dish – the humble store-bought, dirt-cheap kind work just fine. 

Get the recipe.

Rick not only sent carrots, he sent carrot wisdom:

  • The nutrients in carrots (primarily beta carotene, which our body converts to Vitamin A) are not well absorbed when eaten raw, as they’re bound up in the fibers and tend to pass through the body. Cooking helps release them. (Rick’s reco is to freeze them first. When they thaw they’re limp and soft as the cell walls are broken down. You can then brush them with olive oil and grill or roast them. They char on the outside and you absorb the nutrients with minimum loss from over-cooking.)
  • The sweetness of a carrot is partly genetic but mostly due to soil temperature. The colder the soil, the sweeter the carrot. Like most root crops, cold temps convert the starches into sugar and change the taste. It’s why it’s best not to keep potatoes in the fridge, as they can develop an overly sweet taste.
  • All carrots were white in the past. The orange was bred into them, possibly by the Dutch who are known to be the finest carrot growers in the world. (And known to like the color orange.)
  • Don’t worry about losing nutrients if you choose to peel them, unlike some fruit and vegs whose nutrients are concentrated around the skin, carrot’s nutrients are spread throughout.

Your carrot recipes?  Raw or cook. (I was weened on shredded carrot and cabbage salad and even if it means forgoing a few nutrients, it’s still a simple dish I come back to.)

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  • Lafleurl99

    I LOVE your blog…my fav!
    PS Anyone in South Florida?   Josh’s Organic Garden in Hollywood offers lovely different carrots like these.

  • MommyLisa

    I LOVE putting veggies on my grill.  Hmmm, may need to get some carrots at the farmer’s market this weekend.

  • June Rose

    I heart Rick and those carrots.

    • Michelle Madden

      Me too.

  • Liz

    Carrots for dessert and not in a cake – very ingenuous!

    • Michelle Madden

      Seriously – don’t eat them at the beginning of the meal or you may never make it to the protein.

  • Pam

    Day after day you tell me things I didn’t know and give me ideas to make feeding more wonderful. I am very grateful and appreciative.

  • es4d

    i got some carrots at the farmer’s market this past weekend and added them to my soon to be world famous veggie bean chili and they had this horrible wood-like taste…can you please tell me why?

    • Michelle Madden

      Sometimes the peel can be bitter (not sure about woody, but it def can be bitter) – did you peel them? If you did and they still had an unpleasant taste, it might be that they were either old or it was simply the soil that they were grown in — maybe our resident carrot-expert Rick, can chime in here. Rick?

      One thing I would say though is, that if you can, go back to the mkt and tell them … ask them how long they were stored for and ask them for their thoughts on what might be causing this unpleasant taste.

      • es4d

        i peeled them…i was thinking maybe they weren’t “ripe” enough? maybe pulled up too soon? (they were organic as well) any input rick might have would be swell. y’know how a pear can taste kinda woody? bland and tough…flavorless. thanks for the quick response michelle and as always love love love your blog!

  • Stephanie R.

    best. present. ever. what beautiful carrots!  i’m going to be swooning over them for the rest of the day!

  • Stephanie R.

    best. present. ever. what beautiful carrots!  i’m going to be swooning over them for the rest of the day!

  • Stephanie R.

    best. present. ever. what beautiful carrots!  i’m going to be swooning over them for the rest of the day!

  • Stephanie R.

    best. present. ever. what beautiful carrots!  i’m going to be swooning over them for the rest of the day!

  • Stephanie R.

    best. present. ever. what beautiful carrots!  i’m going to be swooning over them for the rest of the day!

  • Ann

    They say if you treat a quality ingredient with respect you will have a superior dish….to know it was treated with respect from the very beginning? I bet those were tasty carrots! So sweet of Rick! Beautiful carrots, post and pics!

  • Rachel_bowen

    so pretty! love love love your blog…

  • Donna

    Wish someone would send me a box like this.   Those look so gooooooooood and what a health option.

  • Rivki Locker

    That is just the sweetest gift ever. Why don’t my friends send me carrots? I discovered roasted carrots recently and am a big fan. Great way to make a humble food taste luxurious!

  • Jen Hunter

    Those carrots are GORGEOUS!! What an incredible gift!! I love it and love carrots!!

  • Melissa (The Bounty Hunter)

    That is my kind of mail!  Beautiful carrots and the recipe sounds delicious.  I made a fresh rainbow carrot salad with mint last summer, quite lovely on a hot day.

  • Brenda

    Yum to the O!! Yummo!!

  • Danielle DiDonato

    That story warmed my heart! I can just imaging the joy and excitement to receive carrots in a package from such a kind farmer! Also, thanks for sharing the carrot wisdom…good to know!

  • betty

    yum! ive never roasted carrots before, i’ve only boiled, or eaten raw!

  • Rick Machado

    Hello Michelle, and thanks to everyone who liked our Rainbow Pride carrots.

    I want to shout out a big Thanks to Michelle for such a great food blog. Without it, there would be no one to send carrots to. So she deserves all the thanks.

    Looking at the pictures you can see the carrots that have the African traits to them- big wide shoulders, fat, thick and more than one color on a carrot. We don’t like the big shoulders and hope to breed some of that out. But everything else looks ok. We want them on the big side, with slightly large shoulders, but a strong top too. BTW, the top green is loaded with Vit E , one standard deviation above the mean, and is completely edible.

    To answer the person who had carrots that tasted woody- that’s a common complaint. It could have been several factors, some the farmer’s fault, some not. They could have been overgrown, too long in the ground and had an overdeveloped core which turned woody. They could have not had enough water. A sudden hot spell for a few days, some soil stresses, even liquid manure watering could give them an off taste. Take them back and ask for more- don’t let farmer’s sell anything that isn’t great. At a farmer’s market, we have nothing but our credibility.

    You can cook them all ways, but Michelle obviously has a feel for this, because roasting may be the ticket. Freezing them and then roasting works, and freezing and roasting and then pureeing them for a pate or baby food is also great.

    Finally, I sell these on my website. They’re pricey, but sometimes you want something great. I agree it’s not “local”, I do agree. But sending them all over opens up all of us to the idea of how to breed plants and cook them also- not such a bad thing.

    I hope in the future to send Michelle all sorts of things to experiment with. I really like her attitude, her thoughts, and her courage in standing up for her beliefs. She’s an exceptional human being.

    Rick Machado 

    • es4d

      thank you so much for the response, Rick! and thank you Michelle for the beautiful, beautiful blog! i will got back to the famer’s market and let them know!

  • mamacin

    These carrots look luscious.  I have to say though, that I think rosasted carrots left to their own devices – save perhaps a dash of s&p and olive oil, are too devine on their own to be fiddled with.

  • Sadiehgt1

    I grew these in MN.

  • Micheletcapra

    I absolutely love your blog. It’s actually the only blog I read :)
    I used to be a raw fooder and a standard recipe of mine was grated carrot salad – fresh grated carrots, chopped onion, olive oil, vinegar, a little salt and pepper, and then any veggies/fruit I felt like having (avocado, tomato, celery, cucumber, etc…). You can get so crafty with that simple base salad. When I took up cooked food again I’d always eat it alongside seared ahi tuna – the pairing of flavors is so good for some reason. Simple and delicious, the way I like it.
    Anywho, I love natural foods and recipe sharing, and I love your perspective on it all. Thanks for sharing, from a west coast Michele to an east coast Michelle 😉

    • Michelle Madden

      You are so sweet to say this Michele.  I’m not sure I could ever STOP sharing my love for great food and bringing the personality of the ingredients to life…

      • Micheletcapra

        Agreed. I’ve realized that what makes me happiest is sharing good food with my friends – it is such an act of love.

      • Micheletcapra

        Agreed. I’ve realized that what makes me happiest is sharing good food with my friends – it is such an act of love.

  • Tomas

    I’ve never roasted carrots, I prefer to quarter then length-wise, saute them in butter with rosemary.  Slowly.  Then add honey, saute a while longer ’till done.