Summer 2014 brought a lot of new things. Ben and I moved in together. A pope visited Asia for the first time in 25 years. My poor niece was forced to take the Ice Bucket Challenge against her will.
But that summer also opened my eyes to something significant culinarily: the brilliance of the carrot.
Growing up in the suburban 1980s, carrots were a vegetable only served steamed with a dollop of butter and dill or as part of a frozen vegetable medley, often still frozen. Then baby carrots came onto the scene in the early 90s, and carrots had another avenue into my mouth: doused in Hidden Valley Ranch. Throw in the occasional carrot cake for my dad’s birthday, and those were literally the only ways I ever consumed carrots from 1985-2014.
But then in summer 2014, I experienced something glorious. While dining out at Bobby Flay’s Spanish restaurant Gato with a visiting friend, I ordered the charred carrots in a bold piquillo pesto, and my relationship with the orangest root vegetable was transformed.
I realized that for all those years, I had been eating carrots wrong. They weren’t best experienced as a token raw crunch or as an obligatory floating mass in a chicken noodle soup — they were made to be roasted. And so I started roasting them, and in mass quantities. I experimented with a lot of combinations, but my favorite was an homage to ol’ Bobby himself: tossed in olive oil and sea salt, roasted at a high temp until nearly blackened, tossed with pesto and adorned with a dollop of Greek yogurt. Pure bliss.
In the two years since, I’ve upped my carrot intake exponentially and was always excited to open my CSA to find a handful of them… That is, until they stared arriving in the bucketful. I pride myself in being able to finish a whole CSA delivery in its entirely before the next one arrives, but this past week, I failed miserably — at it was all the carrots’ fault.
Seriously. So. Many. Carrots. I almost asked Ben to take an American Beauty-style photo of me covered in strategically-placed carrots, but I realized that might be weird. So here they are laid out on my kitchen table instead. You know you still like them, Kevin Spacey.
I tried my old tricks — roasting, eating them raw — but there were just too many. So I had to get creative.
First, I folded them into mac and cheese via this recipe for a dish that I found satisfying but that Ben said could have done without the carrots. Fair enough.
Then I puréed them into soup, following this recipe but adding a whole can of coconut milk and significantly more hot sauce. I also used unsalted almond butter instead of peanut butter, which may have been a big mistake considering how much I had to season it after. Still, turned out pretty decent.
I stumbled across this gluten-free carrot flatbread recipe in a Cooking Light last night, but there’s no way fake bread actually tastes good, right? Any other ideas for mass carrot usage? Or should I just use this as an excuse to make a carrot cake? Dessert: the delicious solution.
I’m open to suggestions here folks! Unless you’re Facebook, in which case your suggestions are terrible. Just take a look at the slideshow they tried to make me create and post on Sunday morning.
What would you make?