Getting Creative With Carrots

Learn to make carrots an exciting part of your dinner with these tips.
Learn to make carrots an exciting part of your dinner with these tips.

Carrots are a staple of the fall, putting in appearances on many dinner tables. However, the root vegetables are often used in uninspired ways. Whether you’re enrolled in an online culinary arts program or just want to brighten up your meals, here are some tips for choosing your carrots and incorporating them into some more exciting dishes.

Selecting and storing carrots
You are likely accustomed to orange carrots. However, they are increasingly available in a variety of colors, like white, yellow and red, especially at farmers’ markets. Regardless, you want carrots with a deep color, as this indicates freshness.

As the LA Times explained, longer carrots spent more time in the ground, forming sugar. They therefore taste sweeter. Avoid carrots that have soft spots, cracks or splits. Watch out for numerous roots as well, as this indicates an older carrot.

Try to find carrots that still have their tops attached because it will be easier to identify the freshest specimens. Check the leaves to see if they are a bright green and for any signs of wilting. After you remove the leaves, you can use them to make pesto or as part of a soup or salad.

When you bring your carrots home, first cut off the leaves to prevent the vegetables from losing moisture. If you wrap the leaves in a wet paper towel, they will remain usable for a few days. The carrots themselves should be stored in a plastic bag and refrigerated.

You can complement your carrots’ sweetness by cooking them with a simple glaze. Begin by peeling and chopping the carrots. The Kitchn pointed out that any size cut from a quarter inch to 2 inches will do, as long as you keep it consistent. Otherwise you risk cooking them unevenly.

Melt butter at medium heat in a saute pan. You will want roughly 1 tablespoon of butter per pound of carrots. Place the carrots in the pan when the butter becomes hot. Add salt and pepper as you cook the carrots for about five minutes. Stir occasionally and watch for the carrots to grow softer.

Mix in 1/2 cup orange juice per pound of carrots, along with your choice of sweetener. Honey, brown sugar, maple syrup or molasses can all do nicely. Add 1 tablespoon of sweetener per pound of carrot. Cook until the liquid reduces – likely around 15 minutes.

Check for taste and sprinkle on any necessary seasoning before serving.

Roasting carrots is easy and makes for a warm and delicious seasonal side. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit as you peel the carrots and cut them into pieces of about 1 to 1 1/2 inches.

Season the carrots by tossing them in olive oil, kosher salt, black pepper and your choice of fresh herbs. Ina Garten recommended 3 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 1/4 teaspoons of kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper for preparing 12 carrots.

Place the carrots on a sheet pan and roast for 20 to 25 minutes, or until they become tender and start to brown. Add any further herbs, like parsley, dill or thyme, and serve immediately.

Like many vegetables, carrots are fantastic when pickled. They are best seasoned with vinegar and perhaps garlic.

Start by dicing your carrots or cutting them into sticks. Steam the carrots or blanch them by briefly placing them in boiling water. Then drain and place in jars.

To prepare your pickling mixture, bring 1 2/3 cup of water, 1 cup of white vinegar, 1 teaspoon of salt, 1/8 teaspoon of black pepper and 2 tablespoons of sugar to boil in a saucepan. Allow the mixture to cool and then  use it to cover the carrots. Seal the jars and refrigerate overnight. The next day, you’ll have a delightful snack ready to serve.

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