Owen

Courtesy of MARION OWEN

If you love bacon, you’ll flip over plant bacon. Carrots, turnips and other root veggies are the perfect candidates for a sweet and salty snack. 

You know that carrots are good for you, but what else can you do with them besides eating them raw Bugs Bunny style, or grating them into topper for a dinner salad?

Before we get into the recipes, though, let’s look at growing carrots. As in, what about good carrots gone wrong? Specifically, forked carrots, the ones that sport multiple legs? 

Several things can cause carrots to fork. First, they might have met an obstacle (rock) as they grew downward. Carrots prefer a fluffy loam or sandy soil. Solution: Dig in some compost or add sand or volcanic ash.

You can use manure, too, but make sure it’s been composted first. Too much nitrogen can cause carrots to fork or develop an unattractive, hairy appearance.

Transplanting carrots can also cause them to fork. And growing carrots too close to each other can lead to twisted roots — or to not much root at all. Thinning carrots after the leaves are a few inches tall will help ensure nice straight roots at harvest time.

Okay then, to the recipes we go ...

LIME AND CARROT SALAD

In India, carrots are a national vegetable and are the centerpiece in many recipes. Serve this simple, lightly spiced salad with seafood or add to a wrap. 

5 carrots

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon mustard seeds

1 tablespoon lime or lemon juice

Wash the carrots and grate them in a bowl. Toss with salt and lemon juice. Heat the oil in a small pan over medium heat. Add the mustard seeds and as soon as they begin to pop, pour the contents of the pan, oil and seeds, over the carrots. Toss and serve at room temperature or chilled.

CARROT AND RED ONION SALAD

The warm spiciness makes this a perfect salad for fall and winter.

3 carrots

1 medium red onion

1/2 teaspoon salt

Black pepper

4 teaspoons lemon juice

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger

Peel the carrots and cut them into 1/8-inch slices, and then cut across the slices to make “matchsticks” (a food processor works well, too). Halve the onion lengthwise and then cut it into 1/8-inch slices. Bring 2 quarts of water to a rolling boil. Throw in the carrots. Return to a boil. Count to three and drain carrots immediately and rinse them under cold, running water. Drain again.  In a bowl, combine carrots, onions, salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper and ginger. Toss to mix. Salad can be served immediately or chilled for 3 hours.

CARROT BACON

This plant-based bacon is smoky-sweet-salty and delicious! I’ve used this recipe for turnips as well with yummy results. 

4 to 6 large carrots

1/4 cup tamari or soy sauce

2 tablespoons maple syrup

1 tablespoon Sriracha

1 teaspoon liquid smoke

1/2 tablespoon onion powder

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1 teaspoon garlic powder

Cut carrots into thin slices (a mandolin works great for this). To make the marinade, in a bowl or jar, whisk together the remaining ingredients. Put carrots in a baking dish and pour the marinade over them and toss gently to coat evenly. Cover and marinade in the fridge overnight. I like to stir them occasionally.

To dry carrots using the oven: Heat oven to 275 degrees F. Lightly coat a rimmed cookie sheet with oil. Place carrots in a single layer and bake until crisp, turning halfway through cooking. Cool and store in an airtight container.

To dehydrate carrots (my favorite method): Place strips in single layers on screens in a dehydrator and set to 110 to 125 degrees F. Drying will take about four hours depending on the thickness of your slices. Dehydrating makes plant bacons drier, more like jerky.

CARROT SPICE

PANCAKES

These pancakes are smaller versions of a carrot cake dessert, only you get to eat them for breakfast! To 2 cups of your favorite pancake batter (try whole wheat or buckwheat), fold in the following ingredients:

3/4 cup grated carrots

1/2 cup applesauce

1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom (good, but optional)

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon.

1/2 teaspoon. ground ginger or 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger

Cook batter on a hot skillet and serve with yogurt, maple syrup or your favorite fresh fruit, jam or jelly.

PICKLED CARROTS

Serve these pickled carrots an appetizer, salad garnish, with rice or as a side dish with soups, stews or hearty sandwiches.

2 lbs. carrots, peeled, thinly sliced

3/4 cup white or cider vinegar

3/4 cup water

1/2 cup sugar

1 to 2 teaspoon mixed whole pickling spices

Bring vinegar, water, sugar and spices to a boil and simmer for three minutes. In a separate pan, cook carrots in boiling salted water for 10 minutes. Drain the carrots and pack them in hot, sterilized pint jars, leaving 1/2 inch of headroom. Cover with the hot pickling liquid, seal and process for 15 minutes in a boiling water bath. For refrigerator pickles, pour in the hot pickling liquid and let the jars cool to room temperature. Store them in the refrigerator. Makes 4 pints.

Now you know how versatile carrots really are. No wonder they’re the second most popular vegetable in the world after the potato — not bad for a plant that, according to the Oxford Companion to Food, “had an unpromising origin.” It is, after all, merely a refined version of a common weed — Queen Anne’s lace.

Get Marion’s free Photo Tips PDF, a collection of her favorite photography tips, on her blog at MarionOwenAlaska.com. Connect with Marion: Facebook and Instagram or send an email to Marion at mygarden@alaska.net.

 

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