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Unlike most other vegetables, carrots are available all year long. Related to the parsley family, with feathery green leaves and an orange root, carrots can be eaten either raw or cooked. Not all carrots are orange; some are purple, yellow, or even white in color.
Most of the carrots we typically find in local supermarkets and farmers markets range from 7-9 inches in length and from 3/4 to 1-1/2 inches in diameter. Many of the packaged baby carrots are actually regular-length carrots that have been peeled and trimmed to 1-1/2 to 2-inches in length. True baby carrots are removed from the ground early and actually look like miniature carrots.
Did you know?
The sugar content of carrots is higher than all other vegetables, with the exception of beets.
Carrots are a good source of vitamin A, which is important for healthy eyesight.
According to the USDA, eating carrots may lower your cholesterol level.
Dishes prepared with peeled carrots taste fresher and better, although they will lose some of their vitamins when peeled.
Never store carrots with fruit, which produce ethylene gas as they ripen, leading to decreased storage life of the carrots, as well as other vegetables.
And finally, Mel Blanc, the voice of Bugs Bunny, was actually not fond of carrots.
Grilled Chicken Breasts and Carrots with Feta Cheese
For a festive main course, marinated chicken is grilled alongside strips of carrots. Once plated, they are covered with fresh crumbled feta cheese.
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Extra-virgin olive oil
2 tsps. minced fresh oregano
3 tsps. finely grated lemon peel, divided
2 tsps. crushed garlic
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
1-1/2 pounds large carrots
Fresh lemon juice
1-1/2 tsps. honey
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
4 oz. feta cheese, crumbled
Pound chicken breasts to 1/2-inch thickness. Place in a glass baking dish and then drizzle with four tablespoons of olive oil. Sprinkle with oregano, two teaspoons lemon peel, crushed garlic and pepper. Coat both sides. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand one hour at room temperature.
Peel the carrots and cut diagonally into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Cook carrots in boiling salted water until crisp-tender, about two minutes; drain. Immediately place carrots the carrots in an ice bath to cool. Drain and pat dry.
Heat grill to medium-high heat. In a large bowl, toss carrots with one tablespoon olive oil, and then sprinkle lightly with coarse salt. Place chicken on the grill along with carrots. Grill chicken until cooked through, about 5-6 minutes per side. Grill carrots until tender and grill marks appear, about 2-3 minutes per side.
Transfer chicken to cutting board and place carrots in a large bowl. Drizzle carrots with one tablespoon oil, one tablespoon lemon juice and honey. Add cilantro and remaining one teaspoon lemon peel; toss to coat. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Slice chicken on diagonal, and then arrange on a platter, surrounded with the grilled carrots. Sprinkle crumbled feta cheese on top and drizzle over with a little lemon juice. Makes 4 servings.
Glazed Carrots with Onions
2 Tbsps. butter
8 carrots, cut in 1/4-inch slices on the diagonal
2 medium onions, quartered and sliced about 1/4-inch thick
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup currant jelly
1/4 tsp. salt
Fresh chopped parsley for garnish
In a medium skillet, melt butter over medium-low heat. Add carrots, onions and ginger. Cover and cook, stirring, for about8-10 minutes, or until just tender. Stir in the orange juice, jelly and salt. Cook, uncovered, for about 4 minutes, stirring frequently, until vegetables are tender and nicely glazed with the jelly and orange juice mixture. Sprinkle with fresh chopped parsley just before serving. Makes 4 servings.
Crockpot Marmalade-Glazed Carrots
This is really easy. Just throw all the ingredients in the crockpot and come back in about 8 hours.
1 pkg. (32 oz.) fresh baby carrots
1/2 cup marmalade
1 Tbsp. water
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 Tbsp. butter
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
2 Tbsps. water
Salt and pepper to taste
Combine all ingredients in a crockpot and cook on low for 7-8 hours, until carrots are tender. About 15 minutes before serving, make a paste of cornstarch and cold water; stir into carrots. Taste and adjust seasonings. Serves 4-6 as a side dish.
If you really want to impress your spouse, this carrot soufflé will do the trick.
1 pound carrots (any size will work)
1/2 cup margarine or butter
1 tsp. baking powder
2/3 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
3 Tbsps. flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
Cook carrots until soft and then place in a blender while still warm with butter; blend until smooth. In a large bowl, beat eggs until thick, and then add the rest of the ingredients; blend well. Add carrot mixture and cinnamon; blend well. Place in a greased casserole dish and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until middle is set.
Note: You can also add mixture to greased individual ramekins for a more personal flair.
4 cups carrots, diagonally sliced
1 cup orange juice
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/4 tsp. allspice
3/4 tsp. ground ginger
1-1/2 tsps. grated lemon peel
3 Tbsps. sugar
In a medium saucepan, combine carrots, orange juice, chicken broth, allspice, ginger and lemon peel. Bring to a boil. Stir in sugar; cover and simmer for 25-30 minutes, or until carrots are tender. Makes 4-6 servings.
Crockpot Carrot Pudding
4 large carrots, cooked and grated
1 small onion, grated
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1 Tbsp. granulated sugar
1 cup milk
3 eggs, beaten
Mix the cooked carrots, onion, salt, nutmeg, sugar, milk and beaten eggs. Pour into greased slow cooker; cover and cook on high for 3-4 hours.
Norm Harding is a cooking columnist for the Beacon. To send him recipes, e-mail him at email@example.com.