In Praise of Carrots

Image Credit: Kate SommersImage Credit: Kate SommersHas there ever been a food more perfect than the carrot? Delicious raw or cooked, skinned or peeled, if I edited the dictionary, there'd be a carrot next to the word "superfood" (if I edited the dictionary, the word "superfood" would be included, yes). The picture would show those lovely orange roots (with green tops, of course) in my 7-year old boy's just-washed hands.

I didn't always think this way. I wasn't a huge fan of cooked carrots (I still don't love them mashed), and I'm no fan of carrot juice, truth be told. And Carrot Top? Don't even get me started... But for goodness sake, my son eats a helping of carrots every single day at school. What other vegetable doesn't become boring? What other vegetable retains its gorgeous color? What other vegetable has street cred with the other kids in the cafeteria? What other vegetable tastes just as good when you make it into a cake, for crying out loud? Not a one.

Strangely, there are not very many poems about carrots, but I did find this nice little one about carrot cake on Sifblog:

carrot cake: a poem

ready cargo bay
for optimum loadout
carrot cake is on the way
carrot cake incoming

delicious and nutritious
funky and suspicious
carrot cake coming
carrot cake inbound

voyage to ends of earth
find no cake like carrot cake
sing the praises of the lord
i think he loves the carrot cake


I don't know if there's a God, but I do know that any God I could believe in would be pretty darned happy with carrot cake.

Which is all a way of saying that I'm grateful, once again, to get the World's Greatest Carrots in my Harmony Valley farmshare this week. If you have any great carrot recipes, please send them my way or post them here. Meanwhile, here's a list of all the things that came in this week's CSA box, with descriptions straight from Harmony Valley:

  • Porcelain Garlic: Porcelain's big, lovely cloves are great for slicing. Use thinly sliced garlic tossed in a salad or as a pizza topping.
  • Red and yellow onions: If you are receiving more onions than you use up in a week, be sure to keep an eye on the older ones and rotate your inventory! If they are kept in a cool, dark place, onions should last well into the winter. So take good care of them!
  • Potatoes: For a more flavorful variation on your standard mashed potatoes, try pureed parsnip, potato, and squash seasoned with nutmeg and garlic.
  • Leeks: Sauté chopped leeks until lightly browned, then toss with chopped fresh oregano, olive oil, and grated cheese. Broil on a thin pizza crust until cheese begins to brown. Serve leek pizza as an appetizer, or a light lunch with a nice salad.
  • Delicata squash: Try baking till tender and filling with a stuffing of leeks, sausage, and wild rice.
  • Butternut squash: Add soft cooked butternut flesh to muffins, rolls, or cookies. Ginger spice butternut biscotti, drizzled with dark chocolate?
  • Sweet potatoes: If you've never had sweet potato pie, today is the day to try something new! Check for a bunch of recipes.
  • Carrots: Use your carrots as the base of a cool, crunchy slaw. Try shredded carrot and radish, grated onion, grated fresh ginger or pickled ginger, chopped bok choi, and a creamy wasabi dressing.
  • Greenleaf or Romaine lettuce: Toss a crisp side salad with a light, lemony dressing and liven it up with quick, easy homemade croutons. Thinly slice a baguette (or whatever bread you may have lying around), brush slices with olive oil, and toss with salt, pepper, and basil or whatever herb you feel like. Bake at 400º until browned and crispy. If you want to make things even more exciting, broil croutons with shredded parmesan cheese.
  • Parsnips
  • Bok choi: Garnish a simple miso soup with wilted bok choi leaves and chopped stems.
  • Fennel: Sauté chopped fennel over medium heat to caramelize lightly, add chopped apples and a splash of white wine, cover, and simmer until tender. Serve as a side with pork chops or roast chicken.
  • Red kale: Steam until tender, chop into small ribbons, and toss with fresh hot pasta in a creamy sauce with mushrooms and spicy Italian sausage.