The carrot is a member of the umbeliferae family (which also inclues parsley, celery, parsnip, cilantro, and dill, among others). Purple and yellow varieties were the first cultivated varieties in central Asia, while orange varieties appeared in the 1600s in the Netherlands. Carrots are high in vitamin A and, of course, beta carotene. They are also good sources of fiber, calcium, and potassium.
Remove greens and refrigerate carrots in a plastic bag to store for 2-4 weeks. Carrots can be stored longer-term when packed in moist sand in a cool location. They can also be frozen (blanch for 3 minutes, plunge in an ice bath, and transfer to a freezer bag).
To remove dirt, scrub with a vegetable brush. Carrots can be peeled, but doing so removes carotene and trace minerals near the surface. Eat raw to consume the most nutrients, or lightly steamed (for 5-10 minutes) to retain most nutrients. Carrot greens can be chopped and eaten in a salad or stir-fry, or dried and used as an herb. Carrots are also excellent juiced. Dice or cut into chunks and add to soups, stews, casseroles, or sautéed dishes. Add to homemade tomato sauce to add a little sweetness. For a simple carrot soup, puree carrots, onions or leeks, grated ginger, and a little salt or soy sauce. Alternatively, sauté in butter with onion, salt, and fresh herbs.
North African Carrot Salad with Cumin
1 ½ pounds carrots
Juice of 2 oranges
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin, or more to taste
Cut carrots into fine shreds (using the julienne cutter of a food processor works well) or into 1/8-inch-thick slices. Blend citrus juices, oil, salt, pepper, and cumin. Pour dressing over carrots, toss and serve.
(Recipe from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian: Simple Meatless Recipes for Great Food by Mark Bittman.)
Roasted Carrots with Cardamom Butter
4 teaspoons butter, melted
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
½ teaspoon salt
2 pounds carrots, peeled and cut diagonally into ¼-inch-thick slices
Preheat oven to 400°F. Combine butter, oil, cardamom, and salt in a medium-sized bowl. Add carrots to bowl, and toss to coat. Spread carrots evenly on a baking sheet. Roast carrots, stirring twice, until they become tender and golden (about 25 minutes). Serve immediately.
(Adapted from original recipe here.)