Root vegetables are an absolute staple in the winter, and so where better to kick off ‘Veg of the Month’ than the humble carrot. Usually bright orange in colour (though varieties of yellow, black and purple all exist), carrots can be found in countless dishes and bakes. They’re versatile in texture, from completely crunchy raw to soft and sweet when cooked down. In the UK, it’s less the case that there’s a carrot ‘season’ because they’re effectively around for the whole year: July through April are all good times to grab a few. And at 40p per kilo (mine were Sainsbury’s ‘wonky’ variety), they’re very forgiving to the bank account.
Prepping and Storing Carrots
The best kind of carrots to buy are the loose, unpackaged ones: not only does it give you control on just how many you get, preventing potential food waste, but it also stops them getting the plastic sweats (which make them go off quicker). No worries if you do buy the bagged stuff though, just make sure to remove the packaging prior to putting them in the fridge. If you aren’t a fan of loose veg just hanging about at the bottom of your fridge, a paper or cotton bag does nicely to keep everything in order.
No need to grab the peeler when it comes to prep! Instead, use the abrasive side of a clean sponge and a bowl of fresh water to scrub off any dirt or little root hairs from the skin. This way you get less waste and more carrot. Trim the ends—which can be saved in the freezer and added to a vegetable stock later if you’re a real food waste warrior—and there you have a perfectly prepared carrot ready for whatever use takes your fancy.
Quick Carrot Uses
Carrot Sticks — Classic healthy snack material. Crunchy, sweet, hummus’ best friend. There’s no need to cook, just cut up into sticks and enjoy. While you can do a bunch all at once and store in a container in the fridge, I always find they go a bit dry and weird. Nonetheless, you really can’t go wrong with these to use up the last couple of carrots.
Mirepoix — French, yes, but not actually as fancy as it sounds. A mirepoix is an assortment of diced aromatic vegetables, usually used as the base for a variety of sauces or soups. A traditional mirepoix consists of onion, celery and, you guessed it, carrot. To make a simple but tasty pasta sauce, for instance, heat up a little bit of oil in a pan and gently fry off your mirepoix until golden. Add a tablespoon of tomato paste and a crushed clove of garlic, fry off for another minute, then add in a can of chopped tomatoes and half a canful of water. Allow to boil down for 5-10 minutes, then combine the sauce with pasta (and a little bit of pasta water, though this is to your discretion). Season with salt and pepper, and bon appetite! Obviously this can be levelled up a bunch, but it shows just how a mirepoix (and the carrots within it) can give a dish a strong base-flavour profile.
Grated Carrot — Carrots make a great addition to sandwiches and salads when grated. Combine with sliced red cabbage, onion and a tablespoon each olive oil, wholegrain mustard and lemon juice for a quick ‘slaw’ which doubles up as a tasty sandwich filler when added to hummus-slathered toasted bread.
Carrots are widely grown across the UK, which means they can have as limited a carbon footprint as possible by the time they’re on your plate. As I’m sure you will be tired of hearing me say after I’ve got a few of these articles out, eating seasonal and local where possible is a great way to live more sustainably, as well as ensuring that the produce you’re eating is in its prime. As mentioned earlier, they’re cheap too because of their availability, making it even easier to get enough vegetables into your diet. Plus, who doesn’t want to see in the dark? You might laugh, but I hated carrots as a child, and now I need glasses…
Coming Up This Month:
To make sure you can get the most out of these orange sticks of deliciousness, I will be uploading a handful of carrot-based (and vegan!) recipes for you to try out, including a quick and spicy soup and a carrot loaf cake to get you out of the banana bread rut.
So get yourself a bag of carrots and start making the most of some seasonal veg.