By Bonnie Fishman / San Francisco Bay Area
“What’s up, Doc?” has been an amusing phrase in our American vernacular since 1940 when it was first introduced by Bugs Bunny of Looney Tunes cartoons, as voiced by the famous Mel Blanc. We immediately form an image in our heads of Bugs standing with one hand on his hip, noisily chewing a carrot.
Carrot you say? We have carrots! This year, my husband Bob decided to plant carrots in his garden for the first time. So to live it up a little, he bought seeds for festive rainbow carrots, which come in a variety of colors: orange, white, and red. Rainbow carrots are now readily available in grocery stores as well as at farmer’s markets. Lucky us, we have them in our front yard!
Our grandsons, Emet and Jonas, (ages 8 and 5) came to visit us from Los Angeles a couple of weeks ago during the height of the growing season. Bob let them each pick some carrots. Watching their faces after they pulled them out of the ground was priceless. Almost like, “So that’s where they come from!” I think it’s a great learning experience for kids actually to see where and how their food grows.
Carrots are considered a “super food” because they are a great source of vitamins and minerals (beta-carotene, Vitamin A, Vitamin K1, potassium, and antioxidants) as well as fiber. They are also particularly good for eye health. Carrots are great for snacking because they are low in calories, easy to carry around, and–I don’t know about you– that crunch is really satisfying.
Here’s a tidbit that I learned a few years back. “Baby carrots” that you buy in bags are actually not as advertised. In fact, they are manufactured from large carrots. First they’re cut into two-inch pieces and then run through a tumbler to smooth the edges. But there are real baby carrots, immature carrots that taste particularly sweet. One nice feature, though, about the packaged baby carrots is that they are peeled and user-friendly right out of the bag.
Carrots have been a tried-and-true vegetable the world over for centuries. They are the basis for many soups, stews, and salads. Carrots are one of three vegetables diced small, along with onions and celery, that the French call “mirepoix”. The mirepoix is usually cooked in butter or oil over low heat to soften but not change the color.
I always have carrots on hand. They last a long time in the fridge as well. For years, carrots were considered mundane and you’d rarely see them on high-end menus. But they are making a real resurgence now, with interesting global preparations using different spices and cooking techniques!
Because of our family’s bumper carrot crop this season, I have been coming up lately with creative ways to cook them. Back in the ’70s and ’80s, if carrots were served at a restaurant, they usually came boiled or steamed or sautéed. Plain and simple. Despite the great color carrots brought to the plate, the flavor was lackluster.
Let’s change that today with a wonderful Moroccan-style recipe. This versatile side dish can be served hot, warm, or cold. It pairs well with plain roast meats, chicken or fish. It can be a great addition to a buffet where several side dishes are featured. This will be the veggie that everyone comes back for!
I hope you enjoy this preparation as much as I do. Let us know here at The Insider what you think of these colorful carrots and let us all ask together, ‘What’s up, Doc?”
Moroccan Carrot Salad with Raisins and Sesame Seeds
Yield: 8 servings
2 lb. rainbow carrots
1 tsp. coarse salt
3/4 tsp. Sriracha hot sauce
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. coriander
1/2 tsp. sweet paprika
3 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 lg. celery stalk, diced fine
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 c. raisins
1/4 c. fresh mint, chopped
3 Tbsp. toasted sesame seeds
Peel carrots. Cut evenly into 1/4” rounds. Bring a 4-qt. pot of salted water to a boil. Boil the carrots for about 8 minutes, until they are tender. Drain in a large colander. Do not rinse with cold water.
Put carrots in a large bowl. While they are still warm, season with the coarse salt, hot sauce, and spices. Stir in the olive oil and lemon juice. Add the remaining ingredients.
Serve warm or at room temperature. Can be made ahead and stored cold. Remove from the fridge at least an hour before serving.
Bonnie Fishman attended the Cordon Bleu Cookery School in London. Later, she owned and operated Bonnie’s Patisserie in Southfield, Mich. and Bonnie’s Kitchen and Catering in Bloomfield Hills, Mich. She has taught cooking for over 35 years and created hundreds of recipes. She is now living in Northern California.