By Teresa Marrone
When I had a big garden a number of years ago, carrots were one of my favorite crops. I loved to pull a carrot out of the ground, scrub it under the garden hose, and eat it right away, while it still held the warmth of the sun. The flavor of a freshly dug carrot, before it’s been refrigerated, is sweet, mellow, and somehow tangy all at the same time.
Carrots are available in a rainbow of colors beyond the familiar orange; you’ll often find yellow or white carrots, but they can also be pinkish, redÑeven black. All are packed with vitamins, and can be used interchangeably. At the market, look for green-top carrots that have fresh, crisp greensÑbut be sure to cut the greens off as soon as you get home. If left attached, the greens draw moisture from the carrot, turning it hopelessly limp within a few days. Although bitter, the greens can be eaten, and are rich in vitamin K; use small amounts in a mixed salad, chopped as a garnish, or added to soup. (Note that folks who are allergic to chamomile and ragwort may have a reaction to carrot greens.)
Carrots work well in sweet as well as savory dishes; carrot cake and carrot muffins are a well-known favorite. They pair well with other root vegetables; try adding a few to potato pancakes, or make a thick parsnip-and-carrot pancake for a real treat. I love to add some grated or chopped carrots to tomato sauces; I simply sautŽ them with some onion and garlic, then add tomatoes and make the sauce as usual. For a fabulous sandwich, stir together a grated carrot with 1/4 cup of chunky peanut butter, and some honey if you like, then use as sandwich filling; this sandwich travels well, and is a favorite when we’re hiking or snowshoeing.