Well folks, I’ve been a little lax on the seasonal secrets front for a while now, but with Jupiter Creek CSA up and running I’m back on deck for a regular weekly posting of inspired ideas for using up that gorgeous, fresh, local produce.
I was very excited to find some wickedly good looking heirloom carrots in my boxes and couldn’t wait to get them into some dishes. The apathetic adolescents roused themselves from their customary torpor long enough to express disquiet about the unexpected colour of some of the carrots and so found themselves on the receiving end of a brief discussion on heirloom varieties, the preservation of biodiversity, vegetable colours and associated nutrient values.
The growing focus on industrial agriculture and it’s reliance on limited varieties of plant strains is resulting in both a dangerous diminishment of biodiversity as the older heirloom varieties vanish from the fields and a concurrent reduction in nutrient levels of food crops. Heirloom fruit and vegetable varieties are a reservoir of genetic diversity and continued production of them will help maintain a larger food crop gene pool and help safeguard against possible future food crises. Add to this the fact that nutritional research has shown that colourful vegetables contain different and essential vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytochemicals – all of which are necessary for optimal health. As a very loose, general guide it is safe to assume that the deeper the colour of the food, the more nutritionally dense it will be, so the deep purple carrots in my box were clearly edible powerhouses.
One of my very favourite ways to prepare root vegetables is to simply slow roast them. I just adore the sweetness that they take on as the sugars caramelise in the oven and I love playing around with fresh herbs and different spices to add a flavour kick. In order to beef up a particularly bland meal the other night (a special request for comfort food – tuna mornay) I bathed chunks of carrot in local olive oil, then sprinkled quite liberally with ground cumin, coriander and Murray River salt, before slow roasting them – heavenly. Tonight I think we’ll be taking advantage of the last of the milder weather and enjoying a carrot salad. I bought myself a nifty julienne slicer and have a big bunch of fresh herbs to use up, too. Carrot salad can be just about anything you like, but this will be our version tonight.
- 1 orange carrot, julienned
- 1 purple carrot, julienned
- 2 spring onions, finely sliced
- ½ cup chopped fresh herbs (I used basil, coriander, parsley)
- 150 gms feta cheese, cubed
- 2 Tbsp sunflower seeds
- 2 Tbsp honey
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ¼ cup raspberry vinegar
- Freshly ground pepper
- Sea salt
- Toss carrots, herbs and feta together.
- Whisk honey, oil and vinegar together, add salt and pepper to taste.
- Toss vegetables in dressing, then sprinkle with sunflower seeds before serving.
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