Carrots, an underrated vegetable, are often overlooked in the grocery store. Why? Because many children all over the world have been scarred by mushy, cafeteria-style carrots (I know it isn’t just me). When I think of cooked carrots I always think of the mushy boiled variety or the packaged baby kind that frequented many lunch boxes growing up. The turning point for me may have been when I tasted spiced carrot mash or roasted carrots. There was actually life beyond boiling; carrots are really good! And even though nothing is worse than an overcooked carrot, they are pretty easy to cook and an incredibly versatile vegetable. Here’s a tip for avoiding mushy carrots: use a knife, test carrots for softness with a little bite (an especially important test when steaming or boiling).
Carrots work well with almost any herb or spice that you can think of and can be used in salty, sweet, spicy, briny, and sour recipes. Plus, they are incredibly good for you. Loaded with vitamins and antioxidants, carrots are essential for good vision health and have even been praised for cardiovascular health and lowering blood sugar. So, give carrots another chance. You might actually enjoy them!
How to Buy: Look for carrots that are firm, smooth, and relatively straight. How to tell which vegetable has more of the super vitamin, beta-carotene? Choose a carrot that has a bright orange color. Pass on the carrots that look limp or have cracks. If the carrots do not have their tops attached, look for darkening at the root, a sign of aging. If the tops are attached on the carrots, they should be brightly colored—not wilted and limp.
How to Store: Stored properly, carrots will keep for almost two weeks in the refrigerator. To preserve freshness, store carrots in the coolest part of your fridge wrapped in a plastic bag or paper towel. The key is to minimize the amount of moisture that the vegetable loses. Store carrots away from other fruits and vegetables that produce ethylene gas, which shortens their shelf life and can even cause them to become bitter. If the greens are attached on the carrots and you don’t plan to use them right away, cut off the greens before storing them. The greens pull moisture from the root causing the carrot to soften prematurely. Store the green tops like herbs but it is best to use the greens immediately.
Spice Roasted Carrots with Pomegranate Molasses
This recipe brings out the sweetness of carrots by roasting them in earthy spices and drizzling with pomegranate molasses. Finish with fresh herbs such as basil, mint, or cilantro for a bit of brightness. And don’t fret if you can’t find pomegranate molasses. You can easily substitute balsamic vinegar or make your own pomegranate molasses by simmering equal amounts of pomegranate juice and sugar until thick and syrupy.
1 bunch carrots, peeled (approximately 1 pound)
1 tablespoon, extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon pomegranate molasses
Sliced mint for garnish (or basil or both)
Preheat oven to 425ºF (225ºC). Cut carrots in half lengthwise. Cut halves in half to create quarters if carrots are thicker. Toss carrots with olive oil, cumin, cayenne, coriander, and salt and pepper.
Roast for 10 minutes, flip carrots, and roast for another 5 minutes.
Toss carrots with pomegranate molasses (or 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar) and roast for another 5 minutes until golden. Toss with mint and/or basil and serve.
More Carrot Ideas Around the Web
Smitten Kitchen’s Carrot Salad with Harissa, Feta, and Mint
Tastespotting’s Carrot Mascarpone Pasta
Sippity Sup’s Carrot Bechamel Gratin
Tartelette’s Carrot Cake Macarons with Cream Cheese Filling
And check out my Indian Spiced Carrot Soup!