Fall is not only the time for enjoying apples and pumpkins; it is also the peak season for using the sweetest local carrots. The displays of carrots at the Saratoga Springs Farmers’ Market with their plumes of leafy green tops still attached are especially attractive. Most people find the carrot greens bitter, but they are edible and nutritious and make pretty garnishes. (In any house with a pet rabbit or horses, the greens are the gourmet treat, while we humans stick with the colorful root portion.)
At the Farmers’ Market, carrots come in a variety of colors including yellow, orange, red and even purple, and they all are chock full of added health benefits. Classic orange is a well known source of Vitamin A. Red carrots carry lycopene, a carotene believed to guard against heart disease and some cancers. Yellow carrots’ xanthophylls support good eye health, and purple carrots contain anthocyanins, powerful antioxidants. All the colors taste great and in a blind taste test cannot be told apart.
Perhaps the best part of being able to buy different colored carrots is the beautiful salad plates and baked dishes one can make. Your child’s colorful snack of raw carrots will be the talk of the cafeteria table. Shredded carrot slaw packed with fall colors will take slaw from ordinary to gourmet. The best part is, no matter what you make out of these sweet colorful carrots, the taste is going to be great.
While using carrots in raw form is the most common way, cooked carrots can hit the spot too. A fall favorite is baked carrots with apples, which includes another fall favorite, cider. Or try a creamy carrot soup, a great crowd pleaser on cooler nights, especially when paired with a spinach salad or an herbed grilled cheese sandwich. Below are these two good recipes for cooked carrots.
Apple Carrot Bake (Serves 4-6)
2 medium apples*, peeled and sliced
2 cups of thinly sliced carrots* (approx. 4 carrots, any color)
1 cup cider*
2 tbsp. butter
4 tsp. sugar
1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a saucepan, combine apples, carrots and cider. Cover and cook over medium heat until apples are almost tender (5 minutes). Drain.
3. In a medium-baking dish (2 qt.) put in apples and carrots and dot with butter.
4. Mix together the sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over the apple-carrot mixture in the baking dish.
5. Bake for 30 minutes or until glazed.
Creamy Carrot Soup (Serves 6)
2 tsp. olive oil
2 tsp. butter
3 cups (6 medium) Farmers’ Market carrots*
1 cup chopped Farmers’ Market onion*
1 tbsp. grated fresh ginger* (Kilpatrick Family Farm)
2 cups sodium free chicken or vegetable broth (Or make homemade broth with a stewing chicken, bones saved from a roasting chicken, or a mixture of peels and scraps.)
1 tsp. grated orange rind
¼ cup fresh orange juice
1½ tablespoon honey* (Ballston Lake Apiaries)
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. ground turmeric
1/8 tsp. ground red pepper or
½ tsp. fresh, seeded hot peppers diced
1 cup half and half* (Battenkill Valley Creamery)
¼ cup crème fraîche or sour cream* (Longview Farm)
1. In a Dutch oven, sauté carrots and onion until carrots begin to brown and onion is tender. Add ginger and sauté for a minute more. Stir in broth and bring mixture to boil, cover and reduce heat and simmer until carrots are tender (approximately 10 minutes). Remove from heat and let cool for 15 minutes.
2. Blend the carrot-broth mixture in a processor until puréed. Add remaining broth and blend again.
3. Return purée to Dutch oven and stir in orange rind, honey, salt, turmeric and red pepper. Place over medium heat for five minutes. Then stir in half-and-half and heat through.
4. Ladle into bowls, top with crème fraîche or sour cream. Garnish with a strand of carrot greens if desired.
A version of these market recipes appears in this week’s edition of Saratoga Today. Ingredients marked with an asterisk (*) are available at the Saratoga Farmers’ Market.