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.
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.)
Get Posts By Email