International Carrot Day: 4 recipes that will make you love the veg
Sunday, April 4 is International Carrot Day!
Carrots are packed with nutrients, particularly vitamin A, which is famously good for vision.
The benefits don’t stop there, though, because this common root vegetable is also rich in other vitamins and antioxidants.
Although carrots can certainly be eaten raw, they can also be cooked in just about any way you can imagine.
They can be boiled, steamed, fried, or puréed and added to soups or smoothies. Carrots on their own can seem boring, but there are so many ways to cook with them.
If you are having a hard time enjoying carrots or incorporating them into your plant-based diet, one of South Africa’s largest chef schools, the Capsicum Culinary Studio asked its successful alumni graduates to share their favourite carrot recipes, and below is what they came up with.
Charmaine's chilli carrot soup
Pretoria born and raised, Charmaine Lehabe is the co-founder of The Squared Experience, a private fine dining company that has been making waves in the capital city. She runs the company, along with her wife and her partner Thandeka Nhlapo, whom she met at Capsicum.
1tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1tsp chopped fresh thyme or parsley
5 cups chopped carrots
2 cups water
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock (liquid)
½ cup cream (optional)
½ teaspoon salt
2 green chillies
Freshly ground pepper to taste
Heat butter and oil in a pan over medium heat until the butter melts. Add onion and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 4 to 6 minutes.
Add garlic and thyme (or parsley) and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 10 seconds.
Stir in carrots. Add water and broth and bring to a lively simmer over high heat.
Reduce heat and simmer gently until very tender, about 25 minutes.
Puree the soup in batches in a blender until smooth (use caution when pureeing hot liquids.)
Stir in the cream (if using) and salt and pepper.
Garnish with chopped parsley and serve with crusty bread.
Franco's glazed carrots
Following a stint at the Four Seasons Westcliff, Franco Buys now works as a personal chef providing home-cooked meals, platters, healthy meal plans, specialty dishes, and cooking classes. He also works with chefs and guests to provide fine dining 3-5 course meals in the comfort of your own home.
1kg rainbow carrots
2tbsp vegetable oil
2 whole garlic cloves
2tbsp of honey
5g fresh thyme
5g fresh sage
Rinse the carrots under cold water to remove any soil. Place the unpeeled carrots into a pot of boiling salted water and blanch for 2 minutes. Remove from water and onto a separate dish and season with salt and pepper. Heat a pan to high and first add the oil, then the butter, garlic, sage, and thyme. Add your carrots and toss them in the pan until they start to colour slightly. Lower the heat to medium, add the honey and let the carrots glaze and bubble for about a minute or two. Check for seasoning.
These carrots can be served alongside your favourite main or just as is.
Hendrik's carrot muffins
Hendrik Pretorius, who hails from Middleburg, now bakes treats for visitors to the Lisbon-based coffee shop, Simpli, where he works and says his carrot muffins are always amongst the first to be snapped up by hungry customers.
5ml bicarbonate of soda
20ml baking powder
2 large egg
100g carrots, finely grated
4 tsp cinnamon powder
4 tsp vanilla essence
5ml ginger powder
Preheat the oven to 180ºC and place a rack in the centre of the oven.
Grease a 12 cup muffin tray with butter or baking spray. (If you use muffin papers, spray them on the inside so the muffins don't stick.)
In a medium bowl whisk together the oil, yoghurt, milk, eggs, and vanilla extract.
In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, salt, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder, cinnamon powder, and ginger powder.
Make a well in the flour mixture and pour the wet mixture into the centre of the dry mixture and fold together until the ingredients are well combined.
Add the grated carrots and mix thoroughly. Using a spoon, scoop the mixture into the muffin cups until each cup is about ¾ full.
Bake for 30-35 minutes, rotating the muffin tray halfway through the baking time until the muffins are golden brown. (Insert a skewer and if it comes out clean the muffins are done.) Remove the muffin pan from the oven and let the muffins cool in the pan before serving.
Notes: The muffins are best served freshly baked but they can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days. They can be refreshed in the oven at 150ºC for 5 minutes.
Harris Hlungwani's carrot meringue pie
"One of the few things South Africans never stopped doing during lockdown is celebrating their birthdays, so I've been providing exquisite personalised custom-made birthday cakes and catering under my newly founded catering company, Generis Taste,” said Hlungwani.
For the carrot puree:
500g peeled carrots, ends removed
4tbsp of unsalted butter
1tbsp of white granulated sugar
2tbsp of heavy cream
1 pinch of salt
50g of agar (use gelatin if agar unavailable)
For the crust:
300g tennis biscuits
125ml melted butter
For the Swiss meringue:
6 extra-large egg whites
375g white sugar
For the pie crust: Preheat the oven to 180°C. Combine the butter and biscuits in a food processor and blend until fine. Transfer to a 23cm pie dish and press into an even, thin layer, including up the sides of the dish, and bake for 10 minutes.
For the carrot puree: Cut the peeled carrots into equal small sizes and boil in a medium saucepan until soft. Drain and then add the carrots, butter, sugar, salt, and heavy cream into an electric blender and blend on medium until smooth. Transfer to a saucepan and simmer. Add the agar. Add the mixture to the pie crust, cover with cling film and leave to cool in the fridge.
For the Swiss meringue: Combine the egg whites and sugar in a large metal or glass bowl and set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Whisk the mixture until the sugar has dissolved. Transfer the bowl to a stand mixer (or use a hand mixer), and with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Dollop the egg whites into the chilled pie and decorate to your preference. Caramelise the egg whites with a kitchen blow torch until golden brown and serve immediately.