Seasonal secrets and heirloom carrots

by Amanda McInerney on 26/03/2012

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.

Photo source - Wikimedia Commons

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.

Rainbow Carrot salad
 
Prep time

Total time

 

The fresh summer flavours of fresh herbs and raspberry vinegar, plus nutrient dense carrots and the addition of nuts or seeds, add some protein and you’ve got a meal, not just a salad.
Recipe type: Salad
Serves: 4 as a side

Ingredients
  • 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

Instructions
  1. Toss carrots, herbs and feta together.
  2. Whisk honey, oil and vinegar together, add salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Toss vegetables in dressing, then sprinkle with sunflower seeds before serving.

 

 

 

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Lizzy (Good Things) March 26, 2012 at 7:21 pm

Love a good roasted carrot! So deliciously sweet. Your recipe sounds lovely, too. Thank you for sharing.

InTolerant Chef March 27, 2012 at 7:24 am

Aren’t they so pretty! I planted some purple carrots this year, but had no luck with them or beetroot :(
Lucky I’ve been able to get some lovelies at the markets in both Dutch carrot size and large size.
Love the spices in your recipe, perfect!

Ann March 27, 2012 at 8:40 am

I find that the purple carrots when roasted taste a lot like beetroot, but don’t know if it’s mind over matter.
I wish I had requests for tuna mornay. My lot hate it!
Carrot salad recipe sounds amazing!

Isabelle March 27, 2012 at 8:55 am

Recipe for Roasted Carrots with Bacon and Maple Syrup on this site may be of interest to the adolescents in the house.
You’re commiting a venial sin if you eat these:

http://www.fornobravo.com/cookbook/index.php/20-recipes/vegetables/149-roasted-carrots-with-bacon-and-maple-syrup

It calls for roasting them in a pizza oven but I’m sure you could do it in a regular oven.

Now if you could just write a bit about conserving the diversity of bacons… :)

Barbara March 27, 2012 at 9:08 am

I’m starting to see the purple carrots in my fruit and veg shop. I haven’t tried them yet.

Hotly Spiced March 27, 2012 at 11:10 am

What wonderful looking carrots. That first image is amazing. I think slow roasting the carrots is a great way to cook them and with cumin sprinkled on them they would have smelt fantastic as they roasted. Enjoy the carrot salad – I really must by some raspberry vinegar! xx

Lee March 27, 2012 at 12:10 pm

I’m addicted to these heirloom carrots too – have you been able to get the golden yellow ones? Sweated down with a little water, fresh thyme and, ok, a chunk of butter (damn you Jamie Oliver).. heaven. And they came from a suburban fruit and veg in Norwood too. Lately I’ve also seen candy cane and golden varieties of beets and watermelon radishes in the Central Market so there is hope that mainstream has noticed (well, some of them) which makes it easier for the rest of us.

Mandy - The Complete Cook Book March 27, 2012 at 4:47 pm

Amanda, what a delightful carrot salad! Roasted veggies of any sort is my favourite and also so easy to prepare – bonus.
:-) Mandy

Kate March 27, 2012 at 4:48 pm

The carrot salad sound delightful – we just don’t see that gorgeous colour range here even in the markets !

tania@mykitchenstories March 28, 2012 at 6:21 am

It is quite frightening how narrow the vegetable world has become when you look into vegie stores isn’t it. I have been enjoying all of the ‘new’ heirloom vegies and hope the trend spreads further than the restaurant table. Your carrot salad recipe is a simple delicious sounding affair. I have been pickling these purple babies and the pickling liquid is a beautiful sight to behold!

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