This post first appeared in 2015, and since then, the recipes have gone through a number of developments/iterations/whatever word you’d like to choose. Originally, it was carrots, two ways. Now, I’ve added a third.
Our soil is rocky and very clayey. Certain root vegetables grow, but very differently from what one would expect. Short and stubby or a bit twisted, so they’re right at home.
However, working the garden the last
eight ten or so years (with a break thanks to the drought and other crud), has improved the soil quality: fewer stones helped along with our own compost and locally sourced manure. Of course, crop rotation – a necessity – also helps. Carrots are a crop we can grow all year round – with patience. They are a slow crop. They are also versatile because they are great for eating raw and cooked; hot or cold; in salads and as sides.
Putting up my hand
Let me nail my colours to the mast. Again. I am not a fan of the local traditional carrot salad which is just too sweet, or the salad of finely shredded carrots with pineapple and raisins. They are in the same category as coleslaw – with slightly less vehemence.
As happens when there are two of you, and a crop is ready to harvest, the choice of accompaniments for meals becomes somewhat restricted. We go through patches of wonderful (and ongoing) crops of carrots, but there is a limit to the number of carrot sticks one can eat.
But now –
I can get quite creative with carrots and love growing heirloom ones of different colours.
A word to the wise:
Don’t be conned by the lovely colours of heirloom carrots: I thought they’d make my pretty pickle extra pretty. Well, they did, until the colour faded into the pickling brine…overnight!
“No!” to the death boil
I definitely don’t do boiled carrots. I had too many of them as a child – boiled to death, they were.
A few years’ ago, thanks to celebrity chef, Jamie Oliver, I learned about finishing carrots off in the oven.
I subsequently found the recipe, by which time the practice of parboiling* and finishing off in the oven, had become a Fiona SOP. I have to agree with his sentiment that the practice makes the carrots “meatier”; it certainly does intensify the flavours and it’s become my favourite way of preparing carrots – whether they have the full Oliver treatment or not.
* save and freeze the water you drain off – for gravy or vegetable stock
The “pukka” Oliver treatment involves orange, herbs, butter and garlic. Of course. Bung them in a pot with some salted water, bring to the boil for about 10 minutes. Drain and spread on a baking tray with butter (or olive oil), squeeze the orange juice over the carrots, doing the same with the garlic. Now, whack that into a pre-heated oven for about 15 minutes. Serve hot or cold. With extra herbs.
I have also created variations – with or without the oranges and herbs – used my spicy plum jam as a glaze and served them cold with blue cheese on a bed of rocket (arugula).
Rocket and me
Contrary to popular opinion, I’m not overly fond of hot, peppery stuff and for years I really didn’t like rocket in anything other as one of the leaves in a green salad. When it was the vogue to have rocket with everything, I was often found to be picking it out of my salad or asking for an alternative. Yes, I can be that customer, and if it can’t be done, I’ll find an alternative
Among these was beetroot with rocket and goat’s cheese (chevin to be precise).-It’s become another favourite combination. The sweetness of the beetroot works really well with the pepperiness of the rocket, rounded off with the saltiness of the cheese.
That combination gave me the idea of trying carrot with rocket as I did for this dish – and with the saltiness of blue cheese.
I am now a whole lot more
adventurous open to recipes that include rocket and am now exceedingly annoyed if anyone tampers with my self-sown rocket plants. Because, theoretically, once you have rocket, you always have rocket. Unless someone frantically weeds it all out. This monster plant survived the last weeding frenzy.
Which brings me back to carrots.
Going back some a few years, I built a stash of carrot recipes, many of which I’d rejected or not tried. Because, well, just because. Then, because of Sunday Suppers, and because I keep an eye open for dishes that are vegan and vegetarian-friendly, I have a somewhat different lens.
Among the recipes is one with almonds, olives and cranberries. Yes, you guessed right: with rocket as more than garnish.
I gave it a go. It’s a winner.
The best carrot salad(s)
What makes this salad best of all, is its versatility and with various additions or subtractions, it can form a main course for either vegetarians or vegans. What’s more, it stores well so one can make it ahead of time.
In summary: roast the carrots, slivered almonds, garlic and salt and pepper. Set them aside and then combine with pitted olives. Serve on a bed of salad (and rocket) leaves dressed with apple cider vinegar and honey, or spicy plum jam. Garnish with more rocket leaves and flowers.
In a jar – better storage and/or for a picnic
Regular readers and followers of my Insta feed know that I have a stall at the Saturday morning market in McGregor. Last winter, I resumed my soup offering (which had ground to a halt because I served the soups at Sunday Suppers). Now the seasons are changing and the weather’s warmer, soup’s not quite so popular and instead of ditching the jar idea, I am now offer either a seasonal soup, salad or meal in a jar. This wasn’t the first – that was the Butternut and Lentil salad that everyone raves about.
Remember I said that this salad stores well?
It really does. It also looks very pretty in jars. I sold a few at the market and those I didn’t, I stored in the fridge. As a test. The rocket leaves stayed crisp, for a full seven days. That makes it a great market/street food product and a winner for the busy person who plans and prepares ahead.
The full, recipes are available to download here.
The spicy plum jam to which I refer, is a condiment I’ve been making for a number of years. I did share the recipe, and that post, like so many others, went the way of an erstwhile website host. A new post – with the now tried and trusted recipe – will appear during (or after) plum season. I shall be making more.
Until next time, be well
The Sandbag House
McGregor, South Africa
If this post might seem familiar, it’s because I’m doing two things:
- re-vamping old recipes. As I do this, I am adding them in a file format that you can download and print. If you download recipes, buy me a coffee. Or better yet, a glass of wine….?
- and “re-capturing” nearly two years’ worth of posts.
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