04/01/2013 09:32AM ● Published by Style
WHAT’S IN SEASON NOW: CARROTS!
What comes in an array of bright colors, is sweet, and can be eaten boiled, roasted, fried, steamed or raw? If you guessed the beta-carotene-rich carrot, you know your vegetables!
The carrot is a root vegetable that’s likely to have come from Iran and Afghanistan centuries ago. In early years, carrots were grown for their leaves and not the roots. Some relatives of the carrot include parsley, fennel, dill and cumin.
SELECTION AND STORAGE:
If you’re looking for the best carrots, check for firmness and smooth texture. If buying the orange variety, look for the brightest color and avoid limp or rubbery ones. For the freshest carrots, seek out bunches with the greens attached. Large carrots are usually the sweetest, since the sugar is stored in the veggie’s core.
If possible, don’t store carrots next to apples, pears, potatoes and other fruits and vegetables that produce ethylene gas, which will cause the carrots to acquire a bitter taste. If buying carrots with the tops, cut them off before storing, since they tend to wilt faster if the greens are attached. Carrots should be washed gently prior to eating; peeling isn’t required if they’re organic.
HOW TO PAIR WITH LOCAL WINE:
Barbera—an Italian, medium-bodied red wine with fruity and spicy characteristics—complements the sweet and savory flavors of many carrot dishes, especially Curry-Roasted Carrots (for the recipe, visit stylemg.com), which offers a touch of Indian flavors and is delicious with braised lamb shanks. Even though Barbera is an Italian varietal, it’s a versatile food wine that marries well with other European cuisines. Placer County offers many fabulous Barberas, including the 2009 Bonitata, 2009 Popie Wines and 2009 Fawnridge. For more details, visit placerwine.com.
— Julie Peterson
For more information about where to buy local PlacerGROWN products, including wine, visit placergrown.org.
DID YOU KNOW?
Orange is the most common color of carrot, but they can also be found in a variety of other hues, including white, yellow, red and purple. Orange carrots contain beta-carotene and are high in vitamin A, which is vital for healthy eyes. White carrots are thought to be the least healthy variety but do provide fiber, which is important for optimal health. Purple carrots have even more beta-carotene than their orange cousins and contain anthrocyanins (anti-inflammatory agents). Carrots can be as small as two inches or as long as three feet. Most people only eat the root (the orange part), but carrot greens—although slightly bitter—are also edible.
Curry-Roasted Carrots and Summer Beans with Olive Oil and Golden Raisins
Recipe by Foothill Farmers’ Market Association Chef Courtney McDonald
- 6 large or 12 baby carrots, scrubbed and trimmed (if using large carrots, cut in half lengthwise)
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 tbsp. curry powder
- 2 tbsp. water
- 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 1/2 pound fresh summer beans (yellow wax, blue lake or mix), washed and trimmed
- 1/2 cup golden raisins, soaked in hot water for 10 minutes and drained
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In a medium mixing bowl, toss the carrots with the thyme, olive oil and curry powder. Season to taste with salt and pepper and lay out evenly onto a rimmed baking sheet. Roast, stirring occasionally, until carrots are slightly softened—about 20 minutes. Add the water, garlic, raisins and summer beans. Continue to roast until carrots and beans are cooked/steamed through—about 20 more minutes. If vegetables are cooking too quickly, add a few drops of water to prevent burning. Remove from the oven and serve immediately as a side dish. Note: Pairs well with chicken, pork or lamb, and makes a great chilled lunch alone garnished with goat cheese. Serves 6.