One of the vegetables that first comes to mind when people think about spring is carrots! Maybe it’s because this orange vegetable is commonly associated with the Easter bunny, a trademark of the spring season. Carrots also enjoy peak ripeness in the spring when they are ready to be harvested after spending many winter months firmly rooted underground, protected from the cold weather.
Carrots don’t always get the glorified reputation that seems to come to other vegetables like zucchini, corn, or sweet potatoes. But these little orange superstars are incredibly nutritious and surprisingly versatile for snacks and dishes. They pack a ton of beta carotene, fiber, vitamin K, potassium and antioxidants. If you’ve only ever eaten them raw and paired with hummus or ranch dressing, it’s time you branch out!
Cooking with Carrots: Tips and Ideas
Carrots can easily be incorporated into the types of foods you already enjoy. Here are some ideas to help you think outside the box.
Puree Carrots and Sneak Them into Other Dishes
If you or someone in your family isn’t a big fan of carrots, you can puree them and sneak them into your favorite pasta sauce, meatloaf recipe, burger patties or mac n’ cheese bowl. You can also take a different veggie (ex: celery) and dip it in your puree. To make a carrot puree, steam them until they are soft and tender. Next, puree them in a blender until they form a thick paste. You might consider adding some spices like salt and pepper or even a little bit of butter for a more robust taste. The end result is a touch of added sweetness that can add a new element to traditional foods.
Try this recipe from The Genetic Chef.
Roast Carrots in the Oven
Roasted carrots have an incredible taste when caramelized. You can turn them into a healthier version of French fries by cutting them into thin, long slices – thicker than matchsticks but thinner than wedges. You can also roast them with another favorite veggie such as Brussels sprouts. All you need is a drizzle of olive oil and your favorite spice/seasoning combo. Salt, pepper and parsley work great together!
Try this recipe from Spend with Pennies.
Add Carrots to Your Favorite Soups and Stews
Carrots also go great in soups and stews because they add a deliciously sweet note when their flavor is extracted from the long stewing process. Carrot soup is a soup in its own right, but you can also add carrots to chicken noodle soup, tomato soup, or a hearty stew recipe full of your favorite vegetable, bean and meat options. They are also good for replacing potatoes and can be added as chunks, puree, matchsticks, thin slices, or as whole baby carrots.
Try this recipe from Love and Lemons.
Other Ways to Enjoy Carrots:
- Roast them on the grill as a healthy side dish
- Dehydrate thin slices to make veggie chips
- Use long-sliced whole carrots to replace hot dogs or “pigs” in a blanket
- Incorporate them into healthy whole-grain muffins
- Make a healthier carrot cake with a modified recipe
- Make a carrot slaw with red onion and shredded cabbage