Produce report: July 4
Brussels sprouts and carrots are our vegetable buys of the week. As with asparagus and tomatoes, cooked carrots are even better for us than raw ones — the cooking helps our bodies utilise all those antioxidants. In carrots these include beta carotene (the orange colour) which we convert to vitamin A.
Warm, cooked foods have so much more appeal in winter — time to put Aaron Brunet’s carrot and caraway soup on the menu. Carrots love oranges and Aaron adds their juice and a little zest along with red lentils to make tasty, nutritious bowlfuls.
And why not give Angela Casley’s cooked carrot and chickpea dip a try instead of that packet onion soup number when you are next having Friday drinks?
Cut 600g peeled carrots into chunks and boil in salted water until tender. Drain and mash roughly. In a food processor blitz 1 cup cooked chickpeas, 2 chopped garlic cloves, 2 Tbsp olive oil, 1 Tbsp white wine vinegar, 1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp paprika, ¼ tsp chilli flakes and 1 Tbsp sweet chilli sauce until well combined, but not smooth. Mix to a chunky dip with the carrot. Fold in ¼ cup chopped coriander and season with salt and pepper. Serve with crackers or crostini. Add a little feta or chopped olives for a special occasion, and drizzle with good olive oil. Makes 2 cups.
Carrots are one of our produce mainstays year round but cold winter temperatures stimulate their sugar accumulation, making them sweeter. They store for weeks in the fridge, so long as all the green bits and leaves are removed to prevent rot and moisture loss. Some people swear that immersing carrots in a water bath in the fridge will keep them better, replenishing the water when it gets murky. However a sealed plastic bag will work just fine if the carrots are dry. Line with a paper towel to soak up lingering moisture. Carrots can become bitter if stored with apples, potatoes or other fruits and vegetables that produce ethylene gas.
If you have baby carrots with roots and leaves still attached, chow down on those too. Carrot roots are aromatic and the leaves fresh and slightly bitter.
Kumara, Asian greens, silverbeet, swedes and parsnips are also good buying this week. Although satsuma mandarins are still a standout purchase, ring the changes with some well-priced rhubarb (yes, we know it’s actually a vegetable).
Rhubarb leaves contain oxalic acid and are poisonous but if you have stems with leaves attached, keep them there during storage as they will help your rhubarb stay fresh. Refrigerate rhubarb and cook within a few days (sans leaves) as it wilts quickly. Stew or poach for up to 10 minutes and roast it in the oven, cut into 4-5cm lengths, for about 20 minutes.