Who doesn’t love a carrot?
Good news: you don’t have to peel carrots! By all means, peel if you must, but I generally avoid it whenever possible. Fresh carrots like these don’t have the bitter skin that older, longer-traveling carrots usually do, and since these local carrots aren’t loaded with excessive pesticides, the skins are actually beneficial! The antioxidants and vitamins live mostly in and just under the skin, so why peel if you don’t have to? (score 1 for the busy cook!) Simply slice off the stem, wash or scrub thoroughly, and trim. When cutting, shoot for similar sizes and diameters for even cooking times.
If your carrots tend to get limpy in the fridge, cut off the tops, scrub them, and store them in water. They’ll bounce right back. You can use those tops in stock and broth, but you can also eat them raw. The stems are tougher, but use the leafy parts for pesto or in salads.
If they make it as far as the fridge without being devoured raw first, we’ve got a few tried-and-true easy cooking methods that bring out different aspects of the veggie.
Sauteing keeps the veggies crisp while allowing the heat to develop flavors quickly. Pair with another veggie with similar moisture content, like green beans. If you use something more watery, like bell peppers, the carrots will probably steam and boil too long in the excess water, turning mushier than I like.
To achieve the crisp-tender carrot on the stove, add your carrots, salt and pepper, and 1 Tablespoon of olive oil. They will take longer to cook, so wait for a few minutes before adding your other veggie. Toss often, and pull from the heat when the skins start to brown and blister, and everything is still bright and crisp. This all happens quickly, and you’ll want to serve it right away, so plan on starting the heat right at the end of your overall meal prep.
Roasting lets flavors develop slowly and more complexly: the process releases sugars and leaves you with a tender and flavorful veggie.
Set your oven to 375, and clean and slice your carrots into even shapes. Toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and let roast on a rimmed baking sheet for about 30 minutes or until caramelized and blistery. Optionally, you can then drizzle on a nice balsamic reduction and sprinkle with fresh thyme.
Cut carrots into evenly-sized sticks. Add to saute pan along with about 1/2 cup of water (enough to make sure all the carrots are sitting in it, but not swimming in it). Cover pan and turn on high to let the carrots steam through until just barely tender.
Remove lid and add equal parts butter and olive oil, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook carrots, tossing often, until they start to blister and brown.
Add 2 Tbsp brown sugar, (and if you want to make your household happy, add some curry powder and ground ginger). Continue to cook on high until carrots are caramelized and saucy, adding more butter if necessary. Add a bit of cayenne if you like a kick! Serve immediately.