It's hard not to like carrots. Their sweetness and parsley-family vegetal quality add up to a winning package. That's good because carrots are a superior source of beta-carotene, a material the body uses as vitamin A. Carrots are also a great source of fiber. On the down-side, when they are raw they can sometimes taste incredibly soapy. And sometimes this flavor will even persist when they are cooked. Check your carrots before cooking and if they have a soapy flavor, throw them out.
The number of ways carrots can be used in cooking is endless.
There are many ways to cook carrots. And, carrots along with onions and celery, can be used over and over to enhance almost any dish that has either meat or a sauce. Chop them finely and saute them. They can even be sauteed in butter and then pureed to make a carrot sauce for fish or poultry, or to enhance a gravy or meat sauce.
Carrots are excellent roasted, especially when they are roasted with poultry, beef, or lamb. Roasting intensifies their sweetness and gives them a nice texture. Boiling is not a good way to prepare carrots since they absorb water and become mushy. If they are to be cooked in liquid, cook them in a fricassee where the fluid is broth from meat which will add flavor to the carrots.
They are excellent steamed then sauted in butter. Lots of variations exist on this theme. They can be served in a buttery maple syrup sauce or a lemon-herb sauce, for example. One can also microwave them and puree them to make a mousse of mashed carrots.
Everything we say about carrots applies equally to parsnips, except that they have less beta-carotine, and the flavor of the parsnip is more assertive and less sweet. There is an almost coconut-like overtone to parsnips that can be overwhelming when they are used alone. Parsnips mix well with carrots, especially when one is making pureed vegetables. And they roast nicely. Again, it is generally true that they can be used anywhere carrots are used, but with a subtly different result.
Eat well, and prosper.
Copyright S.R. Brubaker 2002 - 2006.