Sunday, 16 January 2011

How to make 2 meals out of a 15p bag of carrots

One of the problems of buying cheap veg, particularly ones that have neared their sell-by date is that they don’t taste of much. Which means they’re not going to taste that exciting raw or steamed. There’s also the challenge of ringing the changes enough not to tire of them, particularly if you’re catering for one.

The best way to overcome that, I reckon, is to apply fierce heat to them - i.e. roast, grill or fry them over a high heat - and/or spice them up. That’s exactly what I did with a bag of carrots I picked up in the Co-op for 15p.

I roasted enough to make two recipes - a roast carrot and chickpea soup and and a roast carrot houmus recipe I’d been eyeing for a while in Alice Hart’s Alice’s Cook Book.

I don’t think the carrots had quite enough flavour for the houmus - or else the tahini I was using was too strong but the soup was great. Here’s how I’d go about the two recipes another time:

To prepare the carrots you need
450-500g carrots, peeled and sliced thickly on the slant
1 medium onion, peeled and cut into eighths
1 rounded tsp cumin seeds
2 tbsp sunflower oil
Pre-heat the oven to 400°C/Gas 6 (or better still use it when it’s on for something else). Put the carrots and onion in a small roasting tin with the oil and cumin seeds, mix well and roast for about 25 minutes until the carrots are tender and beginning to colour. Set aside and cool for 5 minutes.

For the roast carrot and chickpea soup (enough for 2 bowls)
a quarter of a 400g can chickpeas
half the roast carrots and onion
375ml vegetable or chicken stock
a pinch of turmeric
salt and pepper
Drain and rinse the chickpeas. Put the roasted carrots, onion and chickpeas in a blender with just enough stock to blitz to a smooth paste. Gradually add the rest of the stock and whizz until smooth. Tip into a pan, season with salt, pepper and a pinch of ground turmeric and bring to simmering point. Leave over a low heat for 5 minutes, season and serve.

For the roast carrot houmus you need (enough for 4)
the other half of the roasted carrots
the rest of the chickpeas
about 2 tsp tahini paste
1 tbsp plain yoghurt
a clove of garlic, crushed
Salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste
Whizz all the ingredients in a food processor or blender. Season with salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste adding a little more tahini or yoghurt if you think it needs it. I'd serve this with wholemeal pitta bread.

For more ideas about what to do with carrots check out this post

Do you have any favourite ways of using up carrots or other cheap veg?


verity said...

Ooh - that is a good bargain. I like the sound of both of those recipes. I guess cheap veg is a good way to bulk out a stew too. But I'd probably put in a bid for carrot cake ;)

Helen said...

I've been eyeing up that carrot hummus recipe too - shame it didn't work out. Will remember to find myself the freshest carrots possible when I give it a go.

Fiona Beckett said...

'Course you would Verity! I'd expect nothing less.

I'm not sure you wouldn't get even better results if you sweated off the carrots vigorously with a bit of oil and cumin or coriander, Helen. I'd use organic carrots for preference which after all don't cost a fortune. Even market stall ones would be better but I was determined to see what I could make of that bag.

James said...

The co-op definitely has best bargains.

Started roasting carrot ribbons cut on mandolin - like tagliatelle. Bit of olive oil, dash of white wine/ water & veg bouillon and cumin seeds. Don't lost the flavour like you do when boiling.

Made carrot & cumin bread NY eve - just add finely grated carrot & bit of extra flour (carrots quite moist).

Another thing is carrot 'cakes' - savoury like fishcakes, but change the fish for carrots. Lump of mozzarella in middle, moroccan spices and egg & breadcrumb.

Something I haven't made for ages is carrot jam. Sounds odd - taste delish!

And with thai fish sauce, soy, lime, rice wine vinegar, coriander, lemongrass etc as a dressing thai carrot salad can make even the cheapest carrots taste great!

Anonymous said...

If you don't mind odd shaped carrots the ones sold for horse feed beat the co-ops knocked down price. £2 for a 22kg sack. That'll make a lot of carrot cake!

Fiona Beckett said...

Blimey, that is a bargain. Probably even too many carrots for any of us to contemplate!

Love your suggestions, James, especially the carrot cakes and Thai carrot salad. Will have to give that a try.

Lisa said...

(Here via brays_cottage via Twitter)

Hurrah for not wasting food. I made bread pudding today as I was looking at the half a white loaf that hubbs would leave to go solid and then throw away.

I always roast far too many carrots, as I love them so and I always use olive oil and smoked sea salt to cook them as it adds a richness to older veg. Roasted cinnamon carrots are to die for.

Your soup looked delicious.

Robert said...

I'm particularly fond of carrot halwa. Which is an Indian carrot dessert dish made with ghee and spices.

Sarah said...

Great post, great comments! Thanks everyone for the ideas.

Fiona Beckett said...

Coincidentally I was talking about smoked sea salt today, Lisa. (Not very frugal but one must break out occasionally ;-) Was that the Maldon one? Sounds great with carrots.

And well done on carrot halwa, Robert. I'd forgotten that

Glad you're enjoying the exchanges, Sarah. Some great ideas I agree.

Lisa said...

Gosh, sorry to take so long getting back to reply. Where did January go again?

Yes, it is the Maldon one. I love the stuff.