A couple of new recipes tried

So a little catching up here — over the weekend, I did something which I thought I had tried before but apparently not, a zucchini, fennel and white bean pasta:

Zucchini, fennel and white bean pasta

Quite delicious — the recipe is here, and as always I removed the salt (seeing as the goat cheese would add enough as it stood).

The other day, wanting something a little lighter, I settled on a snow pea and carrot salad with miso-tamari dressing:

Snow pea and carrot salad with miso-tamari dressing

Now this to me was the real winner, good as the pasta was — a wonderful blend of flavors and textures all around, and a very simple recipe at that. More stuff to come later in the week…

Kale and carrot salad

Kale and carrot salad

So this one grew out of the fact I had plenty of kale around, not much lettuce and little desire to cook or steam the kale, especially in this weather. As I had a lot of carrots too I did a bit of scrounging and found this recipe (it downloads as a PDF), which as it states:

This is a new twist on kale because it is not cooked. The acid from the lemon and orange juice actually soften and sweeten the kale.

Which it did! Extremely enjoyable results and a good hot weather dish, so give it a whirl…

Fried cabbage on brown rice

Another recipe that came with the latest basket — enjoyable, might have needed more curry powder or seasoning to give it some extra punch but plenty filling!

1 sm Onion, finely chopped
6 tb Oil
1 lg Tomato, sliced
1/2 ts Salt
1/2 ts Curry powder
1 md Cabbage, shredded
2 ea Carrots, sliced into rounds
1 ea Green bell pepper, chopped

Over moderate heat, fry the onion in oil until lightly browned, stirring to prevent scorching. Add tomatoes, salt & curry powder & continue to stir-fry for 3 minutes.
Add cabbage, carrots & pepper & mix well. Pour in about 1/2 c water. Cover the pot, reduce heat & simmer until the liquid is abosrbed & the cabbage is still slightly crunchy.

Potato carrot soup


I’ve done this kind of soup plenty of times before but it’s always good to revisit — in this case, I wanted to use up the rest of the potatoes I had around but I didn’t want to just do another creamy style soup like I’d done last week. The advantage of this soup — the recipe can be found here — is that it’s really quite simple and relies on two things: a little preparation in advance and time to let it really cook through. In this case I went for a full two hours and the result’s excellent — there’s no noodles or rice or the like in this soup but it wasn’t missed, all one needs is a bit of bread to help fill in the corners.

What to do with carrot tops aka carrot greens

Or another lesson in how to make the Internet work for you.

I’d been dimly aware for some time that you can use carrot tops in cooking, but hadn’t really pursued anything about it until the start of July. At a small get-together in SF my friend M. White noted his frustration that so many American markets removed the tops of carrots when in his experience (based in part on having lived in France for a number of years) they were a perfectly natural part of any number of dishes.

Carrot tops’ reputation for being inedible doubtless results from two reasons — taste and (potentially) health reasons. In terms of taste, raw carrot tops can be fairly bitter — it has a carrot taste to it regardless, but it won’t be for everyone, though you can use them in salads easily enough if you have a mind. The larger question of health is one of the biggest question marks when it comes to using them — if you read this recent NY Times story, for instance, you might be inclined to run away from carrot tops as quickly as you can. But this site provides a much more balanced take:

They ARE edible and are highly nutritive, rich in protein, minerals and vitamins. The tops of the carrots are loaded with potassium which can make them bitter, so the use of them in food is limited, but there some ideas and recipes below.

However, it is edible, so you may mix some in with a mixed lettuce salad. You may also use it for garnish. Combine your common sense and your creative skills, and invent something! That’s what makes cooking fun. It is a form of art. Carrot greens are high in vitamin K, which is lacking in the carrot itself.

Carrot tops are an outstanding source of chlorophyll, the green pigment that studies have shown to combat the growth of tumours. Chlorophyll contains cleansing properties that purify the blood, lymph nodes, and adrenal glands. Scientists have been unable to synthesize chlorophyll in the laboratory, but green plant foods contain sufficient quantities to protect the human body.

The leaves do contain furocoumarins that may cause allergic contact dermatitis from the leaves, especially when wet. Later exposure to the sun may cause mild photodermatitis. (This is NOT the same as ‘poisonous’ – it will only affect susceptible people with allergies to the plant. Some people have the same reaction to yarrow, ragwort, chamomile etc.)

There is a distinct difference between toxins and allergens. Carrots (Daucus carota), whether wild or domesticated, are not toxic, they are allergenic. This is like peanuts, which are not toxic but can kill those who are allergic to them.

Which again may sound somewhat unfun, but the point is, essentially, know your allergies. A little experimentation might help.

Anyway I’ve spent part of the past month trying to work with the carrot tops I get via my CSA baskets, with the first attempt being a Tuscan carrot top and rice soup that you can find a recipe for pretty easily all over the net. But the other night, getting a slew of the magnificent carrots from my garden meant a LOT of fresh carrot tops, so I wanted to try some other things.

So a couple of nights ago, I found this recipe which had just gone up at the site Cheap Healthy Good — a carrot top scramble. And I gave it a whirl:
Carrot top scramble

I probably should have added more carrot top to it but it was nice, certainly strong when it came to flavor but very enjoyable through and through.

Last night, meanwhile, I did some further scrounging around and discovered another soup recipe via Tonopah Rob’s Vegetable Farm, a carrot top and quinoa soup. Since I had some quinoa around I wasn’t sure what to do with, this was a perfect thing to try:
Carrot top and quinoa soup

The strong flavor of the carrot tops meshed very well with the broth — the recipe suggests beef bouillon but I went as ever with vegetable instead and it tasted mighty fine. Currently got several servings of it on ice for later thawing and use.

There’s other ideas out there, but that’s a start! Give it a whirl and see what might happen!

[UPDATE NOVEMBER 2010 — thanks to everyone very much for your regular visits to this blog entry of mine, which to my gentle delight has become the most regularly read one on my site over these past few years. I wanted to take the opportunity to link to a couple of other fine spots out there providing more recipes and ideas:

Grilled Carrots with Carrot Greens Pesto — this recipe, with handy photos, comes courtesy of the excellent Not Eating Out in New York blog.

Salad of Edible Radish, Beet & Carrot Top Greens — a very inspired away around those ‘extra’ greens, courtesy of another killer blog, White On Rice Couple.

Feel free to keep posting ideas and suggestions in the comments as well! I deeply enjoy how this has become a resource for that over time and hope to see it continue.)

Stir-fried zucchini, carrots and leeks


Good little recipe from the most recent CSA delivery — in this case served with white rice but you could probably have it go with about anything.

2 md young zucchini
3 Fresh carrots
2 lg Leeks
3 Cloves garlic
1 ts Ginger, minced
2 tb Peanut oil
1/4 ts Sesame oil
1/2 ts Salt
1/2 ts Sugar
1/4 ts 5-spice powder

Preparation: Wash vegetables. Trim zucchini and slice into 2″ long matchsticks. Peel carrots and cut into 2″ long matchsticks. Trim leeks and do likewise. Peel garlic and cut into thin slices.

Stir-frying: Heat peanut oil in hot wok until it starts to smoke. Stir-fry garlic and ginger for 30 seconds, splashing with water to prevent burning. Add carrots and stir-fry for another 30 seconds. Add leeks; stir-fry for 1 minute. Add zucchini; stir-fry for another 30 seconds. Sprinkle with seasonings, tossing ingredients as you do. When vegetables are cooked, sprinkle with sesame oil. Transfer to serving platter or individual plates to serve.

Oven baked zucchini & carrot fritters

Meanwhile, tonight I tried a recipe from this blog which I’m definitely going to want to investigate further for other recipes. This was quite delicious!

Carrots and kale in orange ginger sauce with spiced rice

Along with some raisin cinnamon sesame bread from Avanti.

This recipe was an interesting one — I was idly googling up ideas combining kale, carrots and rice, and came across this recipe. I was struck by the sound of it, but also by the way the recipe was presented. As it turned out, this was very intentional on Kira Ryder’s part (Ryder being the blog author), as you can see from the description provided:

I love to cook. But I only recently started to write about it which I have found to be really hard. As I began to try convey recipes, I realized that I do not pay very close attention when cooking to amounts and measurements. This inattention is okay when speaking to another cook, but when trying to share instructions with a novice, specifics are useful.

This blog is designed as a place for me to practice being clear. It’s also a place to share recipes with pals after delicious dinners at my house.

And why not? Recipes with clear measurements and full details are excellent for learning, as she says, and the vast majority of recipes I try fit into that category. But there’s something to be said for latitude, and I found this recipe struck a fine balance between overall direction and inspiration — in essence, it lets you find or decide the amounts or approach to consider. So I’d say both a novice and a practiced cook could enjoy this recipe as presented.

So without a photo to go by — and without basmati rice prepped as indicated (I had some basic jasmine rice ready that I spiced up a bit with salt and seeds) — I went right ahead, and here’s Ryder’s recipe:

1. Basmati Rice with Spices
Heat up some fat (today I used ghee). Once hot, add some spices. Today I used mustard seed, cumin seed and coriander seed. Add soaked basmati rice. Stir and toast rice a bit. Add the right amount of water. Bring to a boil. Cover and lower heat. About 10 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, peel and slice up some carrots. Mince up some ginger. Slice up some kale.

3. Heat some fat in a pan. Add the ginger and stir for about 30 seconds, and then add the carrots. Allow carrots to cook in the fat, stirring every so often, until they start to brown a little. Add 1/2 a squeezed Orange, cover and allow carrots to steam and soften.

4. When rice is done, remove from heat and let sit.

5. Add kale to the carrots, stir and cover for only about a minute to wilt the kale.

6. Today I added the rice into the pan with the carrots and kale to stir it all up and soak up the extra orange ginger sauce.

7. I put it in a bowl, added a little salt and ate the whole thing.

Spiced carrot and celery soup

Taken from this page. Good little recipe, goes well with bread.

1 tablespoon of olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

2 cloves of garlic, chopped

1 teaspoon of curry powder

6 medium carrots, roughly chopped

4 large sticks of celery, cut into pieces

2 pints/4 cups/1200ml of water

Sea salt to taste

Fry the onion and garlic in the oil for a few minutes and then add the curry powder and stir to release the flavours. Add the carrots, celery and water and cook gently until the vegetables are tender. Whizz up in a liquidiser/blender until smooth and add salt.

Risotto Barolo with roasted vegetables

Whew. I’m surprised I went ahead and did this — an exhausting (and somehow utterly boring) day left me feeling like a wreck. But I had already pulled together the ingredients and thought ‘heck with it’ — and I’m glad I did. Very, very delicious, and a great way to start the weekend.

Vegetables:

    8 baby carrots, trimmed
    8 baby turnips, trimmed
    8 baby beets, trimmed
    3 sprigs fresh thyme
    3 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
    3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
    Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Risotto:

    6 to 7 cups chicken broth, homemade or low-sodium canned
    3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
    1/4 pound sliced pancetta, chopped
    2 shallots, chopped
    2 cups Arborio rice
    1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
    1 1/2 cups Barolo
    1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
    2 tablespoons unsalted butter or truffle butter
    Freshly ground black pepper
    Black truffle shavings or truffle oil for garnish, optional

For the Vegetables: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Toss the carrots, turnips, beets, thyme sprigs and garlic in a roasting pan with the olive oil. Season generously with salt and pepper. Roast, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 30 minutes. Peel the beets. Keep the vegetables in the turned-off oven until the risotto is ready.

For the Risotto: Bring the chicken broth to a simmer in a medium saucepan, over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat so the broth simmers gently.

Heat the olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the pancetta and cook until slightly crispy, about 3 minutes. Add shallots and cook stirring, until tender, about 1 minute. Add the rice and stir until it is glossy, about 1 minute. Add the salt. Add 1 cup of the Barolo and cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until it is absorbed by the rice, about 2 minutes, scraping up any brown bits on the bottom of the pot. Ladle in about 1/2 cup of the simmering broth and stir constantly, until the rice again absorbs the liquid, adjusting the heat to maintain a gentle simmer. Continue ladling in about 1/2 cup of broth at a time, stirring between additions and letting the rice absorb the liquid before adding more.

When rice is al dente, after 20 or so minutes of cooking time, stop adding broth. Stir in the remaining 1/2 cup wine until just absorbed, then stir in the grated Parmesan and the butter. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Let the risotto rest off the heat for a minute or so before serving. Divide among warm shallow bowls and top with the roasted vegetables. Shave black truffles over the top, or drizzle with a bit of truffle oil, if using.