Monday, November 12, 2012

Carrots are crunchy and sweet and available year-round. Locally grown carrots are harvested in the summer and fall and can grow to be anywhere from 2 inches to nearly a foot long. Carrots are related to parsnips, fennel, parsley, anise, caraway, cumin and dill.

According to World’s Healthiest Foods website, www.whfoods.com, the carrot’s ancestry goes back thousands of years to Central Asian, the Middle East and Europe.

The word “carrot” comes from the Greek word “karoton.” The antioxidant, beta-carotene, is found in carrots and was named after the carrot.

This nutrient-rich vegetable can be found in a variety of colors including orange, white, yellow, red, or purple. Before the 15th or 16th century only purple, yellow and red carrots were cultivated.

Add plenty of this delicious root vegetable to your Thanksgiving table this year. Not only do carrots supply antioxidants, but also cardiovascular and anti-cancer benefits.


Sauteed Carrots

Most think of boiling or steaming carrots, but Ina Garten, a Food Network chef, has a unique way of sautéing carrots.

2 lbs carrots
1 teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1½ tablespoons chopped fresh dill or flat-leaf parsley
 
Peel the carrots and cut them diagonally in ¼-inch slices. You should have about 6 cups of carrots. Place the carrots, 1/3 cup water, salt, and pepper in a large (10 to 12-inch) saute pan and bring to a boil. Cover the pan and cook over medium-low heat for 7 to 8 minutes, until the carrots are just cooked through. Add the butter and saute for another minute, until the water evaporates and the carrots are coated with butter. Off the heat, toss with the dill or parsley. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and serve.

Makes 6 side servings


Bourbon Carrots

If you prefer a sweeter side dish, try adding a bit of sugar and bourbon to your carrots.
3 cups water
1½ lbs baby carrots
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons bourbon
fresh parsley, chopped (for garnish)
 
Bring 3 cups water to a boil in a 3 quart saucepan; add carrots, granulated sugar, and salt. Return to a boil, and cook 5 minutes or until carrots are tender. Melt butter and brown sugar in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Stir in carrots, and cook, stirring occasionally, 2 to 3 minutes or until well coated. Add bourbon, and cook, stirring occasionally, 3 more minutes. Garnish with parsley, if desired.

Makes 8 servings


Herbed baby carrots

Tarragon, thyme and butter add the finishing touch to this side dish which can be cooked on the stove or in the microwave.

1½ lbs tiny whole carrots
¼ cup butter or margarine
1½ teaspoons fresh tarragon, snipped or ½ teaspoon dried thyme, crushed
½ teaspoon salt
dash freshly ground pepper
 
In a large saucepan cook carrots, covered, in a small amount of boiling water for 10 minutes or until crisp-tender. Drain. Meanwhile in a small saucepan, heat the remaining ingredients until butter is melted. Pour over carrots. Toss gently.

To use your microwave:
In a microwave-safe 2 quart casserole, cook carrots, covered in 3 tablespoons water on 100% power (high) for 10 to 12 minutes or till carrots are just tender, stirring twice. In a microwave-safe 1 cup measuring cup heat the remaining ingredients on high for 1 minute or until melted. Continue as directed.

Makes 8 side dish servings.


Zesty Herbed Carrots

Experiment by adding a little zing and some hearty walnuts to a sometimes boring side dish.

¼ cup balsamic vinaigrette salad dressing
1 lb carrots, sliced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons chopped walnuts, toasted

In a large skillet, cook carrots in 1/3 cup water. Cover with lid and cook for 8 minutes. Drain off water. Pour dressing over carrots, stir to coat. Cover and cook on medium heat for 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in parsley and nuts.
Makes 6 servings, about ½ cup each


Orange-Glazed Carrot Ribbons
 
If you want to score points for presentation, sweet and tender carrot ribbons are sure to win big on your holiday table.

2 pounds large long carrots, peeled
2 cups orange juice
1½ teaspoons (packed) dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons honey
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
chopped chives
 
Run vegetable peeler down length of carrots, shaving off long ribbons (you will need about 8 cups of ribbons). Cook ribbons in large saucepan of boiling salted water for 2 minutes. Drain and gently pat dry (can be made 6 hours ahead). Cover and chill.

Stir orange juice and sugar in heavy large skillet over medium high heat until sugar dissolves. Boil until reduced to scant 1 cup, about 5 minutes. Add carrots, and butter; simmer until carrots absorb most of orange syrup, about 4 minutes. Add honey and vinegar. Mix gently. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer carrots to serving bowl. Sprinkle with chives.
Makes 4 servings


Grandma Hiers’ Carrot Cake

Paula Deen’s very special carrot cake is a dessert to satisfy the sweet tooth in everyone.
butter, for pans
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
4 eggs
1½ cups vegetable oil
3 cups grated carrots
1½ cups chopped pecans, optional
 
Frosting:
2 (8 oz) pkgs cream cheese, room temperature
1 stick salted butter, room temperature
1 (16 oz) box powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup chopped pecans
 
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 3 (9-inch) round pans. Line bottom of the pans with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Add eggs and vegetable oil. Using a hand mixer, blend until combined. Add carrots and pecans, if using.

Pour into pans. Bake for approximately 40 minutes. Remove from oven and cool for 5 minutes. Remove from pans, place on waxed paper and allow to cool completely before frosting.

To make the frosting:
Add all ingredients, except nuts, into a medium bowl and beat until fluffy using a hand mixer. Stir in the nuts. Spread frosting on top of each cake layer. Stack the cakes on a serving plate and serve.
Makes 8 servings