Have you ever wondered what flavours pair well with carrots? Whether you’re roasting, grilling, or simply using them raw, finding the right flavour combination can really make your carrots shine.
What are Carrots?
Carrots are root vegetables known for their vibrant orange colour, crisp texture, and sweet flavour. However, you’ll also be able to find them in purple, white, and yellow varieties.
They are a popular ingredient in many different cuisines and are used in a variety of dishes, from salads to soups to stir-fries.
When it comes to cooking with carrots, the possibilities are virtually endless. They can be eaten raw, cooked, roasted, steamed, grilled, pureed or even pickled. They’re a common ingredient in soups, stews, casseroles, and salads and are often used as a side dish.
Carrots are typically in season from late spring to early autumn, although they can be found year-round in most supermarkets.
In addition to their great taste, carrots are also incredibly healthy. They are a great source of vitamins A, C, and K, as well as potassium and fibre.
They’re a weight-loss-friendly food and are known to lower cholesterol levels and improved eye health. We’ve all heard why rabbits don’t need eyeglasses, right?
Types of Carrot
There are actually several different categories of carrots, from the most common regular carrots to colourful rainbow varieties, each with its own unique flavour and appearance.
Regular: Regular carrots are the most common type of carrot found in grocery stores. They have an elongated shape with a tapered end and come in various colours, including orange, yellow, and purple.
Regular carrots taste slightly sweet and earthy and can be eaten raw, roasted, juiced, or added to soups and stews.
Baby: Baby carrots, or Dutch carrots, are small, immature carrots that are often sold with their green tops still attached.
They have a sweet and tender flavour and can be eaten raw as a snack or used in salads like this Dutch carrot salad. Baby carrots are also great for roasting or grilling.
Heirloom: Heirloom carrots are older varieties of carrots that have been grown for many generations. They come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colours, including white, yellow, and purple.
Heirloom carrots have a slightly sweeter and more complex flavour than regular carrots and are often used in salads like this roasted heirloom salad or as a side dish.
Rainbow: Rainbow carrots are a mix of different coloured carrots, including orange, yellow, purple, and red. They have a slightly sweet and earthy flavour and can be eaten raw or cooked. Rainbow carrots are often used in salads to add colour and texture.
Organic: Organic carrots are grown without the use of synthetic pesticides or fertilisers. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes, with a slightly sweet and earthy flavour. Organic carrots can be eaten raw or cooked and are often used in soups and stews.
What Does Carrot Taste Like?
Flavour: Carrots have a slightly sweet and earthy taste, with a subtle hint of bitterness that gives them a complex flavour profile. When cooked, they become softer and sweeter while still retaining their distinct taste.
The flavour of carrots can also vary depending on the variety, with some having a spicier or more floral taste than others.
Texture: Carrots have a firm and crunchy texture when raw, with a satisfying snap when you bite into them. As they cook, the texture softens, becoming tender and more succulent, with a pleasing melt-in-your-mouth quality.
The texture of cooked carrots can vary depending on how they are prepared; for example, roasted carrots have a slightly caramelised exterior and a tender interior, while boiled carrots can be softer and more delicate.
When pureed, carrots become smooth and creamy, making them a great addition to soups, stews, and sauces.
What Goes with Carrots?
Fruit and Vegetables
Apricot, beetroot, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, corn, cucumber, endive, garlic, ginger, green bean, kale, kohlrabi, mushroom, peas, pomegranate, potatoes, spinach, sweet potato, radish, leek, lettuce, onion.
Herbs, Nuts and Dairy
Chervil, cream cheese, dill, mint, parsley, rosemary, thyme.
Protein and Other
Allspice, beef, bulgur, cinnamon, clove, chicken, chickpea, curry, nutmeg, honey, maple syrup, pork, rice.
How to Use Carrots in Salads and Side Dishes?
Carrots are a staple vegetable that can add colour, texture, and flavour to any salad or side dish. Whether you prefer raw, roasted, or pickled, there are many ways to prepare carrots to take your dish to the next level. Here are some ideas for preparing carrots for salads and side dishes:
Raw: Raw carrots are a classic addition to salads and can add a satisfying crunch. To prepare, simply wash and peel the carrots, then slice them into rounds or julienne into thin strips. You can also use a vegetable peeler to create ribbons or shave them into thin curls.
Roasted: Roasting carrots can bring out their natural sweetness and add a delicious caramelised flavour to your dish. Preheat your oven to 200°C or 400°F, toss your carrots with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and roast for 25-30 minutes, until tender and golden brown.
Grated: Grating carrots can create a fine texture that can add a unique dimension to your salad or side dish. To prepare, simply wash and peel the carrots, then use a box grater or food processor to grate them.
You can also use a mandoline slicer to create thin matchsticks as we have in this spicy Asian chicken salad.
Pickled: Pickled carrots can add a tangy and slightly sweet flavour and a pop of colour to your dish. To prepare, mix vinegar, sugar, and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil.
Steamed: Steaming carrots can create a soft and tender texture that pairs well with a variety of flavours. To prepare, place the carrots in a steamer basket over boiling water and cook for 5-10 minutes, until tender.
You can also season the carrots with salt and pepper or drizzle with butter or olive oil for added flavour.
Sous vide: For all our sous vide lovers out there, carrots make for an excellent candidate. If you have an Immersion cooker, immerse the sealed bag in a water bath or a large saucepan and set at 83.9°C or 183°F for 1 hour.
These are just a few ideas for preparing carrots for salads and side dishes. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different cooking methods and flavour combinations to create a dish that’s uniquely your own.
Salads and Side Dishes with Carrots
Indulge in wicked black garlic butter as it’s melted and richly drizzled over roasted carrots with thyme. It’s the perfect side dish to serve up with your main fare that is both simple to execute and sophisticated at the same time.
A deliciously colourful salad with roasted heirloom rainbow carrots and red onions layered on top of a bed of chewy pearl couscous, fresh mint and chopped almonds. A salad that satisfies.
Watch as everyone can’t stop going back for more! Who would have thought drizzling hot honey over perfectly sous vide carrots could be both the easiest thing to make and yet tasting so delicious?
Frequently Asked Questions
Carrots can keep for several weeks when stored properly in a fridge. Whole carrots can last up to four weeks in the refrigerator, while baby carrots or chopped carrots may only last for about a week. Store them in a plastic bag or container to extend their shelf life.
Signs that carrots have gone bad include a slimy texture, a strong odour, and visible mould or discolouration.
When carrots go limp, it usually means that they have lost some of their moisture and are beginning to dehydrate. While limp carrots are still safe to eat, they may be less crisp and fresh-tasting. To revive limp carrots, try soaking them in cold water for a few hours or steaming them briefly.
The cooking time for carrots in an air fryer can vary depending on the size and shape of the carrot pieces, as well as the desired level of doneness.
As a general guideline, sliced or diced carrots can be air fried at 200°C or 400°F for about 10-15 minutes, while larger carrot pieces, such as wedges or thick sticks, may require up to 20 minutes.
It’s a good idea to check the carrots periodically during cooking and shake the air fryer basket to ensure even cooking. The carrots should be tender and golden brown on the outside when done.
Yes, you can freeze carrots! Freezing is a great way to preserve carrots and extend their shelf life. To freeze carrots, start by washing and peeling them, and then cut them into desired shapes, such as slices, chunks, or sticks.
Next, blanch the carrots in boiling water for about 2-3 minutes, then immediately transfer them to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process. Drain the carrots and pat them dry with a towel.
Then, transfer them to a freezer-safe container or freezer bag, remove any excess air, and seal tightly. Label the container or bag with the date and place in the freezer.
Frozen carrots can last up to 8-12 months in the freezer, but for the best quality, it’s recommended to use them within 6 months.
Expert tip: If frozen raw, the texture, taste, colour and nutritional value of carrots deteriorate. That’s why we blanch the carrots to preserve these elements.
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