Carrots: Worth Their Weight in Karats

It's a gorgeous late summer's day here in the Colorado Rockies. But the lure of the outdoors doesn't tempt me. All I have on my mind is the freshly picked carrots at hand.

So as my family goes off to meander along Bear Creek in the Elk Preserve, I reach for my peeler and get to work.

By the time they get home with bouquets of wildflowers, an orange-colored surprise will await them - a fruity appetizer, a colorful salad, a spicy soup, or a sweet, moist cake - made from the humble carrot.

While not as piquant as a pepper or off-beat as okra, the carrot is veritably the most versatile vegetable around. What it lacks in charm, it makes up for in ubiquity. After all, how many vegetables can be found both on the hors d'oeurve plate and under the glass dome of a fancy dessert tray?

Raw or steamed, shredded or sliced, the carrot retains its beautiful orange color and subtle flavor. Use very fresh carrots for the salad (the ones with their tops still attached are likely to be the freshest). Store packaged carrots can be used for the soup and cake. And if you make just one of these recipes for your next meal, you'll still have time to enjoy the last of the late summer days.

Dream of Carrot Soup

1 medium onion, chopped (about 1-1/2 cups)

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 teaspoon cumin

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon fresh ginger

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 to 2 teaspoons salt

3-1/2 cups water or chicken stock

2 lbs. carrots, chopped into 1/4-inch rounds (about 7 cups)

2 medium potatoes, diced (about 2-1/2 cups)

1/2 cup orange juice

3 tablespoons peanut butter (optional)

Saut onions, garlic, and spices in olive oil till soft, about 10 minutes. Add salt, water (or stock), carrots, and potatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until very soft, about 25 minutes. Transfer, in parts, to a blender or food processor and pure until smooth. Add orange juice and peanut butter and pure again. Serve hot or cold, topped with pumpkin seeds, crushed tortilla chips, and/or a light sprinkling of chopped cilantro.

Carrot Cake

2/3 cup oil

2/3 cup applesauce

1-3/4 cup sugar

3 eggs

2 cups flour

2 teaspoons cinnamon

2 teaspoons baking soda

2 teaspoons vanilla

1 teaspoon salt

2 cups shredded carrots

1 cup chopped walnuts

1/2 cup canned, crushed pineapple


3 ounces cream cheese

1-1/4 cups powdered sugar

1/4 cup butter

1/4 cup crushed pineapple

1/4 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Combine all cake ingredients in a large bowl. Mix well. Pour batter into a 9 x 13 inch greased pan and bake about 45 minutes. Cream butter, cream cheese, and sugar till slightly fluffy. Mix in pineapple and nuts. Frost when cool.

Carrot-Strawberry Freeze

1 cup carrot juice

4 ounces frozen strawberries

1 frozen banana

2 tablespoons frozen orange juice concentrate

4 fresh strawberries for topping, (optional)

Put everything in a blender except the fresh strawberries and pure. Serve in chilled glass bowls topped with a fresh strawberry.

Carrot-Cranberry Salad

2-1/2 cups packed shredded carrots

1 medium tart apple, chopped

1/2 cup dried cranberries

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1/4 cup chopped cilantro


2 tablespoons canola oil

1 tablespoon sesame oil

1/4 cup lime or lemon juice

3 tablespoons honey

Mix the salad ingredients together in a medium bowl. Mix dressing thoroughly and pour over salad. Toss salad and serve immediately.

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