Saturday, July 23, 2011

A New Look at Carrots

  Recently we've been looking at carrots. In particular because we saw some seeds for amazing purple carrots. They were a deep beet purple on the outside but were a pretty normal orange on the inside. Apparently wild carrots are purple and they all used to look like that until they were bred to be orange. Personally, I'm liking what the purple does to my salad.

  Now the other thing that I threw into my salad here is the carrot greens. They have a light carrot/parsley flavor and only when you get down to the big thick stems do you tend to find heavy off flavors. They were really good in my salad and brought in a bold flavor to the greens. This made me start to think, how can you use carrot greens productively. You get about double the leafy green compared with the meat of the carrot. It's a bummer to just throw them away.
  (On a side note there is some question as to the poisonous nature of carrot greens. It is a very powerful allergen to those allergic to yarrow and chamomile. Considering that I'm fond of chamomile tea, I'm probably safe. For more info check the Carrot Museum. Then explain to me who decided to set up a museum of carrots.)

  One big use discussed is in broth or stock. I can imagine that these greens bring great flavor to soups or stocks because the combination of carrot/parsley flavor could really boost an otherwise bland chicken or veggie stock. It's also an easy use as they just get tossed into a pot and boiled. But for me, today, this isn't a crazy enough idea. I need to go bigger. Therefore, I give you sauteed carrot tops with garlic and fennel.

Sauteed Carrot Tops with Garlic and Fennel (serves 4)
1 tbsp olive oil
3 cloves of garlic sliced thin or pressed
1 tsp fennel seeds
Carrot tops from one bunch of carrots (tear off the leaves from the stem and cut into 3-5 inch pieces)
Salt and Pepper
1 pinch red pepper flakes
2 tsp wine vinegar
2 tbsp water
1 tbsp butter

Tear off leaves from the stems of the carrots and rinse well. The stems have a very strong flavor making them fantastic for stock but overpowering when eating straight. Keep the carrots for later use or throw them in with the leaves and cook them all together.
Heat olive oil in a frying pan that you have a lid for over medium low heat (consider the amount of leaves and the amount of space in the pan).
Once it heats up press in the garlic and toss in the fennel.
Stir for about 3 minutes until the garlic begins to brown lightly.
Dump carrot tops into the pan and stir to coat them with the oil and to get the garlic off the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and pepper flakes and stir every 30 seconds for 2-3 minutes.
Pour wine vinegar onto the mixture along with a couple of tablespoons of water. Stir again and cover for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes stir again and cover.
Take off lid and turn off heat. Then throw your tab of butter on top and stir it in.

Mine ended up like this when served with steak and potato:

The stems are to the left, they were too potent to eat.

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