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Posts Tagged ‘carrot’

I did it!  I cooked!  I cooked like I used to cook – dreamed up a dish and set about throwing it together in the kitchen.  It’s been awhile.  I’ve been relying a lot (too much, maybe) on old staples like pasta with beans and goat cheese, Field Roast sausages, veggie-and-hummus snack plates, or big salads for dinner – all stuff that gets the job done, but dullsville and not really blogable.  It’s just been a challenge to get into the kitchen lately.  I’m completely wiped out when I get home from work, and all I want to do is lay on the couch with a book and shout out a running commentary on baby kicks.

But I was sick of relying on the easy staples and – although he’s far too nice to say so – I suspect hubby was too.  So last night I resolved to get my butt into the kitchen and create something new, something we could really enjoy.  This meal did the trick.  It was easy, packed with protein from the edamame and with nutrients from the carrots and cabbage, and with the wonderful rich flavor of tamari, which I just love.  I felt good eating it, and good after I finished, and I enjoyed every bite.  It turns out this meal isn’t just a flash in the pan (pun intended); I’m already planning out when I can have it again.  It’s going into my regular rotation… and maybe it will even inspire me to get back in the kitchen and whip up some new dishes on a more frequent basis.

Asian Noodles with Cabbage

Handful of udon noodles (or sub soba noodles or whole-wheat spaghetti)
5 carrots, peeled and grated
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup coleslaw mix (or sub finely shredded cabbage)
1 cup shelled frozen edamame
1 teaspoon Seaweed Gomasio (or sub white sesame seeds)
Salt and pepper
Several dashes tamari (or sub soy sauce)

  • Heat a pot of water to a rolling boil.  Salt generously and add udon noodles.  Cook according to package directions (mine called for 8-10 minutes at a low boil).
  • While udon noodles are cooking, heat a few dashes of olive oil in a separate nonstick pan until shimmering.  Add carrots, coleslaw mix, and edamame.  Season lightly with a sprinkle of salt (go easy on the salt though) and pepper, and saute until wilted down and until the edamame are warmed through.
  • Add Seaweed Gomasio and a few dashes of tamari to taste.  Continue cooking veggies over medium heat until the udon noodles are done.
  • Drain the udon noodles, then add to the pan with the vegetables.  Toss to combine well and taste for seasoning.  Add more tamari if necessary.  Serve immediately, or refrigerate for a chilled Asian pasta salad.

Source: Covered In Flour

Serves 2 as a main course, 4-6 as a side.

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Carrot-Mint Juice

Confession time: I don’t like orange juice.  I’ll drink it on a very infrequent basis, when I’m really in the mood, but I am not the one throwing back a glass of Tropicana every morning.  For a long time, I was a “don’t drink your calories” person.  I stuck to water and tea (unsweetened) as my beverages on a daily basis, and wine for a treat.  I still don’t believe in drinking calories in the form of sugary soda, calorie-laden “coffee drinks,” cocktails (okay, I bend this rule occasionally) or sugar-bomb “juices.”

However… I have come to realize that there is a place for getting nutrients through liquids.  I’m talking about healthy whole-fruit smoothies (especially green smoothies) and fresh juices.  I recently got a VitaMix (cue angels singing) and I’ve been blending and juicing my veg-loving heart out.  Here is one of my first creations: a minty fresh carrot juice that’s full of fiber and Vitamin A goodness.  This is nothing but fruits and veggies, mint, and water.  No added sugar, nothing fake.  Just pure carroty goodness.

Carrot-Mint Juice

1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup mint leaves, lightly packed
1 apple (such as Golden Delicious), quartered and cored
2-3 medium carrots, chopped into thirds
1 cup ice

  • Place all ingredients in VitaMix in the order they appear in ingredient list.  Start VitaMix on variable speed 1, raise quickly to 10, and then to high.  Blend on high for one minute or until desired consistency is reached.  Makes 3 cups.

Source: Adapted from VitaMix

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Curry-Roasted Carrots

By now, you all know how much I love roasted vegetables.  Carrots are no exception – just like most of their veggie cousins, when carrots are roasted they become caramelized and deeply sweet-savory.  Now, I could eat plain roasted veggies, with just olive oil, salt and pepper, and maybe a squirt of lemon juice, every day for the rest of my life and never be bored.  But I realize that not everyone is as single-mindedly obsessed with vegetables as I am, and that some of my darling readers might appreciate me changing things up once in awhile.  So here’s a little variation on plain roasted carrots (which are good just as they are) for ya: curry-roasted carrots.

Forrest Gump said many times that he and Jenny were like “peas and carrots.”  What he really should have said was that they were like curry and carrots.  There are very few things, in my opinion, that go better together than curry and carrots.  Curry just loves carrots, and I’ve combined the flavors before in my curried carrot salad.  And not only are these flavors made for each other, but both curry and carrots are great for you.  Carrots contain beta-carotene, which is such an important nutrient that I’ve been known to dream about it and wake up craving orange vegetables.  And curry is thought to possibly prevent degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and dementia if you eat it in small quantities throughout your life.  If that goodness isn’t reason enough to make these curry-roasted carrots, I’ll give you another reason: they’re freaking delicious.  The carrots take on a resonant sweetness, which is perfectly complemented by the spicy crunch of curry powder and garam masala.  Healthy and delicious… yes!

Curry-Roasted Carrots

2 bunches baby garden carrots with greens attached
extra-virgin olive oil
kosher salt and black pepper
1/2 to 1 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 to 1 teaspoon curry powder

  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Trim carrots so that only a small tuft of green remains.  Wash them, but there’s no need to peel them (unless you bought them already-peeled in a bag from Whole Foods like I did, cheater that I am).
  • Lay carrots out on a foil-lined baking sheet and dress with olive oil; toss until carrots are lightly coated.  Add kosher salt (a generous amount), black pepper, garam masala and curry powder.  (I like lots of spice, so I go for the full teaspoon.  If you like less, start with 1/2 teaspoon and see how it looks to you.  You can always add more, but it’s rather hard to subtract.)
  • Roast carrots for 1 hour, tossing once, midway through.

Yield: Serves 4-6.

Source: Covered In Flour.

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Simple Coq au Vin

Coq au vin is a fantastic dish to make for company.  For one thing, it’s easy and you don’t need to pay all that much attention to it – leaving you more time with your guests.  For another thing, it sounds fancy because it’s French.  Coq au vin is a traditional French dish of chicken braised in red wine (or Riesling, for a fun Alsatian variation).  It is a wonderful, warming, rustic and filling dinner – one of my favorite things to eat in the fall and winter.  Because of the intense flavor of the sauce and the braised chicken, it is also a good meal to prepare for someone who is cutting back on their salt intake.  I recently served coq au vin to several of my family members, including one person who is on a low-sodium diet.  Most dishes are bland and boring without salt, so I turned to coq au vin as a dish that packs enough flavor to make salt almost superfluous – and it worked!  The salt-free coq au vin was so flavorful that the whole family ate the dish without salt and didn’t miss a thing.  Cooking salt-free can be a challenge, but if you keep a recipe for coq au vin in your back pocket, you’ll never be short on flavor.

Coq au Vin

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 chicken, cut into 6-8 pieces
kosher salt (optional) and pepper
2 pints cremini or baby bella mushrooms
3 carrots, cut thinly into rounds
20 pearl onions
1 clove garlic, minced
1 750-ml bottle red wine (Burgundy or American Pinot Noir)
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 bay leaf
2 sprigs fresh thyme (optional)
3 tablespoons flour

  • In a large French oven over medium-high heat, warm olive oil until shimmering.  Season chicken pieces with salt (if using) and pepper, then brown both sides in the oil.  Remove chicken to a paper towel-lined dish.
  • Add mushrooms, carrots, onions and garlic to pot and saute until golden and beginning to soften.  Add half the bottle of wine and cook over high heat for 8-10 minutes.
  • Return the chicken to the pot.  Add the remaining wine, broth and herbs and allow mixture to come to a boil.  Reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and allow to cook for 45 minutes.
  • Remove bay leaf and thyme sprigs.  Transfer chicken and vegetables to a serving bowl, using a slotted spoon.  Add 3 tablespoons of flour.  Return mixture to a boil and whisk frequently until sauce thickens slightly.  Pour sauce over chicken and vegetables and serve.

Source: Adapted from Epicurious.com.

Yield: Serves 6.

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Organic French lentils, tomatoes, zucchini, carrots and kombu – what’s not to love?  I made a pot of this soup before going to the spa on Sunday, and it was the perfect dinner to come home to – after treating myself to a lovely massage, I continued to treat myself to a delicious, healthy dinner.  Now that’s what I call pampering!

Lentil Vegetable Soup

1 quart organic chicken or vegetable stock
1 quart water
1/2 cup French lentils
2 strips kombu (sea vegetable, available in the Asian aisle of your market)
3 carrots, sliced in thin rounds
1 zucchini, quartered and sliced
1/2 teaspoon kelp granules (optional)
kosher salt and fresh pepper
pinch of cumin, oregano and thyme
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes

  • Bring water and stock to a boil in a large stockpot.  Add lentils and kombu strips (break them in half before adding them, to make them easier to eat) and cook on a low boil for 45 minutes, until lentils have begun to soften.
  • Add vegetables and season with kelp granules, salt and pepper, dried herbs and spices, and continue to cook until lentils have completely softened and the carrots and zucchini are cooked through as well, about 10-15 more minutes.  Stir in crushed tomatoes and simmer for 5 minutes or so to allow the flavors to combine.

Source: Adapted from Sara Snow

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Carrot Salad Three Ways

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Salad: love it or hate it?  Well, it depends.  Limp lettuce + one cherry tomato + one cucumber slice + Italian dressing?  Blech.  But a really fresh salad, using seasonal ingredients and just enough of a creative, healthy dressing to make the whole dish sing?  Yes, please!  Prepared the right way, salads can be a perfect way to showcase seasonal produce and a palate for some truly imaginative “cooking.”  Every year as the weather gets warmer, I get the itch to try new and different salads.  Last year, I went crazy for carrots.  Like Rabbit in Winnie-the-Pooh (oh, how I identify with poor, put-upon, veggie-loving Rabbit), I was hoarding carrots and carrot recipes as if, at any given moment, Tigger could come along and bounce it all away.  In particular, I became enamored with the idea of an incredibly simple but beautiful salad of just carrot ribbons and dressing, and I started thinking of ways that I could vary the ingredients to make completely different styles of salad.  Following are my favorite variations on a very basic carrot ribbon salad that is delicious all on its own.

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Basic Carrot Ribbon Salad

1 bunch carrots, peeled and with stalks trimmed off
extra-virgin olive oil
juice of 1/2 lemon
coarse salt and pepper

Using a vegetable peeler, shave ribbons off of the carrots until they are too flexible to work with any longer.  Toss with just enough extra-virgin olive oil to coat, squeeze over lemon juice and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Simple!

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Sesame Carrot Ribbon Salad

1 batch Basic Carrot Ribbon Salad
sesame oil (a few drops)
2 teaspoons black sesame seeds

To a basic carrot ribbon salad recipe, add a few drops of sesame oil – it’s very strong stuff, so don’t overdo it.  Add black sesame seeds, varying the amount to your own personal taste.  (I like lots of them.)

This salad looks like Hallowe’en to me, which is one of the reasons I love it!  It’s wonderful all year round, and sesame is a great source of vitamins and minerals, particularly copper, manganese, iron, and vitamin B1.

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Curried Carrot Ribbon Salad

1 batch Basic Carrot Ribbon Salad
1 teaspoon curry powder (I like Sambhar or Madras)
1 teaspoon garam masala
squeeze of lime

Toss basic carrot ribbon salad with spices.  Squeeze lime over and serve – it’s that easy!  Garam masala can be a touch spicy, so if that’s not your thing, feel free to reduce or even eliminate it from this dish.  If you want to get fancy, you can garnish this with a few sprigs of cilantro.  Mmmmmm, cilantro.

Curry is another ingredient that has amazing health benefits.  In particular, it is good for memory and is thought to stave off degenerative diseases such as dementia and Alzheimer’s if you eat it on a regular basis throughout your life.  It’s not difficult to do at all – curry is wonderful added to scrambled eggs or egg salad, sprinkled over potatoes, stirred into bean dishes (especially chickpeas), or stewed with chicken, fish or vegetables – especially carrots.  Go nuts!  A little curry is better than no curry at all.

There you have it!  One simple but delicious carrot salad, dressed up in two very different but equally wonderful variations.  Try these, and play around with your own ideas – and if you think of something good, please let me know!  I’m always in the market for new ways to eat carrot ribbon salad.

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