Gourmet Veggie Mama

Tag Archives: Carrots

Cabbage Coming out of my Ears… and the Perfect Brown Rice

I have about four heads of cabbage sitting in my crisper drawer right now. Since my attempt at sauerkraut was a fail (although I may have to try again with Fido jars), I turned to my old clear-out-the-fridge standby — stir fry — to use some of it up. I added some sliced kohlrabi, carrots, spring onions and delicate broccoli crowns from our garden to round it out.

stir fry veggies

Look at all those pretty colors!

For extra protein, I fried up some tofu and cracked an egg in with the veggies. I sauced the whole thing with a mix of soy sauce and toasted sesame oil accented a smidge of ginger and garlic, and the hubby and I doused our servings with Sriracha (which is still a little too spicy for the peanut these days).

stir fry

The real story here, though, is the rice. I have been on what seems like a lifelong hunt for the perfect method of making brown rice. It’s hard to get it just right — that light, fluffy texture is harder to come by than it is with white rice.

Well, I finally found it!

brown rice

Sauver’s method, which involves boiling the rice in a large amount of water, then draining it and allowing it to steam in the pan for a little longer, is a revelation. With the flap surrounding higher arsenic levels in brown rice, too, it turns out that using lots of water makes eating brown rice safer, too. Who knew?

I just love the nutty deliciousness and higher protein content of brown rice, and now I can enjoy it in all of its fluffy glory! I also love that you don’t have to worry about the proper ratio of water to rice and keeping the heat at just the right temperature. Just make sure you use a large pot and at least 6 to 8 cups of water per cup of uncooked rice. I’m never making brown rice another way again!

Perfect Brown Rice
Author: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
 
Ingredients
  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 8 cups water
Instructions
  1. Rinse the rice in a strainer until the water runs clear.
  2. Bring the water to a boil in a large pot. Add the rice and stir once. Boil uncovered for 30 minutes.
  3. Remove the rice from the heat and drain in a strainer over the sink for 10 seconds. Return to the pot and cover with a tight-fitting lid. Allow to steam for 10 minutes.
  4. Remove the lid and fluff the rice with a fork before serving. Add salt to taste, if you like.

 

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The Peaceful Mom

Adventures in Fermenting: Old-School Pickled Carrots

I decided to dip my toe into the world of fermented foods a couple weeks ago.

carrots

With a million tri-color carrots cropping up in our garden and heads upon heads of cabbage rolling in from our CSA, I decided to try my hand at pickled carrots and sauerkraut, both done in the old-school way (meaning pickled in their own brine instead of vinegar, and not heat-processed).

carrot jars

Why? I keep hearing about the benefits of fermented foods, and the lamented fact that they’re not a part of our diet like they once were. Fermented foods are rich in probiotics, and the fermentation process can actually increase the vitamin content of many foods. (Here’s a great rundown of the benefits of fermentation from Homemade Mommy).

It just so happens, too, that fermentation is a delicious way to preserve your food! Although fermented foods do need to be refrigerated and won’t last as long as heat-processed canned goods, you still get a good couple of months out of them, and that’s all I really need — especially with summer’s bounty just around the corner. You can add the step of heat-processing these carrots (or other fermented foods) to make them shelf-stable, but that does have the drawback of destroying all the lovely probiotics you just added to your foods through the fermentation process.

The pickled carrots went over like gangbusters. They were easy to make, and they are tangy, salty and crunchy straight from the fridge.

pickled carrots

The sauerkraut… not so much. Let’s just say there was mold involved, but the compost pile was happy to take care of the failed product for us. So, onward and upward! I may try again soon, but for now I’ll stick with pickled carrots. This is such a great way to preserve carrots (especially when you have a million to use up at one time) and even add some nutritional benefit to them. Win-win!

Old-School Pickled Carrots
Author: 
Recipe type: preserved food
 
Ingredients
  • 2 lbs carrots, trimmed of greens and scrubbed
  • 4 cups water
  • ¼ cup kosher salt
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 dried hot chili
  • 1 tsp whole peppercorns
Instructions
  1. Split any carrots larger than your little finger in half or quarters lengthwise.
  2. Combine the salt, water, bay leaves and chili in a large pot and bring to a boil. Boil for a minute or so, then remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature.
  3. Pack the carrots and the thyme sprig into a clean quart-size Mason jar and pour the cooled brine over them (you will have leftover brine).
  4. Pour the leftover brine into a plastic bag and seal it or tie it off. Push the bag into the jar so that the carrots are completely submerged in the brine. (This prevents the veggies from contacting air while fermenting, which will result in mold.)
  5. Put the jar into a cool, dark place for at least 3 days, and up to 2 weeks, depending on how tangy you want your carrots to be.*
  6. After fermentation is complete, remove the bag from the pickling jar. Screw the cap on the jar and store your new carrot pickles in the fridge.** Kept in the fridge, these pickles will last up to 6 months.
Notes
*I let mine ferment for 5 days, which I think is good for starters. Next time I might experiment with letting them go for longer, for tangier flavors, but I was too worried about treading the fine line between fermented and spoiled on this first attempt! **If you plan to heat-process the pickles, pour the brine into a clean pot and boil it. When it is cool, pour it back into the jar with the carrots and seal it, and then process it in a boiling-water canner for at least 15 minutes.

 

Honey-Glazed Carrots

I love growing carrots. It’s like a fun little surprise every time I pull one up! Especially since we planted tri-color carrots, I never know what color one is going to be until it’s out of the ground. Plus they look so pretty I can hardly believe I grew them, especially since my gardening strategy this fall and winter has been one of benign neglect.

carrots

I mean, check these out!

I can only eat so many carrots raw, though, and I really wanted to showcase these beauties in a dish of their own. When I came across CSA for Three’s recipe for Honey Glazed Carrots, I knew I had to try it out.

honey glazed carrots

Delicious.

I peeled the carrots, but I should have just scrubbed them instead, since the purple carrots look so much prettier with their peel still on. If you have pretty carrots and want to savor them in all their glory with a touch of sweetness, I highly recommend this recipe!

Honey-Glazed Carrots
Author: 
Recipe type: Side dish
 
Ingredients
  • 1 lb young carrots, scrubbed well and greens removed
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and whole
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp honey
  • 2 sprigs rosemary
Instructions
  1. Slice any carrots thicker than your thumb in half. Arrange the carrots and garlic cloves in a large sauté pan with a lid and add water just to cover. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and simmer, covered, until the carrots are just fork-tender, about 10 minutes.
  2. Remove the pan from the heat and remove the carrots and garlic with a slotted spoon. Drain the water and add the olive oil, honey and rosemary to the pan. Bring the mixture to a bubbly-simmer over medium heat.
  3. Add the carrots and cook until all the liquid has evaporated, about 3 to 5 minutes. Remove the rosemary and season with a little salt to taste. Serve warm.

 

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Quinoa “Fried Rice”

Sometimes Pinterest can be an amazing thing.* The other day I came across a recipe for quinoa “fried rice,” and I knew I had to give it a try. I love quinoa, and it’s such a great sub for rice in this dish, plus it’s another of those “kitchen sink” recipes I love — you can basically throw whatever veggies you have on hand in it.

* Other times it can make you feel like a failure for not doing 57 crafts a week with your kids and making your own pillowcases, but I digress.

Now, the surprising part about this is that I hated fried rice as a kid. Loathed it. My parents would make it for dinner once every couple of weeks (or at least it felt that often), and I could barely bring myself to take a bite. Now, my taste buds have matured a little bit, sure, but I do think this version is helped along by several factors, including the quinoa-for-rice substitution (it’s lighter and fluffier), fresh veggies instead of frozen,** and frying the eggs omelet-style and then dicing them instead of just throwing them in with the rice to scramble. And Sriracha, because that stuff is just awesome on everything vaguely Asian-ish.

** Oh, those frozen stir-fry veggies, how I loathed them! I think a big part of the issue is that there was always bell pepper in there, and I am just not a fan. Sorry Mom and Dad, you know I love you! I must have been absolutely insufferable on the fried rice issue. I’m sure I’ll get my comeuppance eventually.

I took the recipe for a spin the other night, liberally adapting it to what I had on hand and adding some crispy fried tofu on top for extra protein.

quinoa bowl

Goooood stuff.

This is definitely a meal that has earned a place in our weeknight rotation! It’s certainly a nice change of pace from stir fry.

5.0 from 1 reviews

Quinoa “Fried Rice”
Author: 
Cuisine: Asian
 
Ingredients
  • 2 Tbs canola oil, divided
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • 1 cup broccoli florets
  • 3 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 2 cups spinach, packed, finely chopped
  • 3 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tsp grated fresh ginger
  • 3 cups cooked quinoa
  • 4-5 scallions, sliced
  • Crispy fried tofu (optional)
  • Sriracha, for serving
Instructions
  1. Heat 1 Tbsp of the oil over medium heat in a small nonstick pan. Scramble the eggs in a small bowl and pour into the pan. Cook without stirring until the top begins to set, about 3-4 minutes, then flip over and cook the other side for a couple of minutes. Remove from the heat and cool, then dice and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the remaining 1 Tbsp of oil in a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Sauté the onion until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic and cook for about a minute more, stirring, and then add the broccoli, carrots and spinach. Cook until the spinach is wilted and the other vegetables are just becoming tender, 3 to 5 minutes.
  4. Add the soy sauce and ginger and stir to coat.
  5. Stir in the quinoa, diced egg and scallions, and stir until warm.
  6. Serve topped with crispy fried tofu, if desired, and Sriracha to taste.

 

Linked up at:

The Peaceful Mom

Vegetable Gratin-Soufflé

I love “kitchen sink” recipes — you know, the kind of recipe that you can just throw whatever veggies you have in the fridge into. A stir fry is classic, but when you have lots of root vegetables, as I tend to in the winter, a vegetable gratin-soufflé is my go-to. Even better, it’s super-easy to put together with ingredients I always have on hand, like milk, cheese and eggs.

This all started when I decided to pull a carrot from our backyard garden this weekend. I planted tri-color carrots from seed this fall, and I’m always hesitant to harvest carrots, since you never really know how they’re doing down there. Of course, there’s only one way to tell: pull one up and see.

carrot

Win!

I was gleeful at the results. What a beautiful, straight, maroon carrot! How cool is that? I had to run around to the front yard, where the hubby was playing with Nora, to show them. My neighbors all think I’m crazy, I’m sure. But look how pretty!

roasted veggies

Roasted goodness.

In addition to the carrots, I roasted a parsnip, a couple of baby beets and small head of romanesco cauliflower to toss in. Of course, the whole dish turned pink (as is usually the case when beets are involved), but it was tasty! We ate the gratin-soufflé with a side of wilted kale from the garden* dressed with a little balsamic and topped with a sprinkle of parmesan.

gratin-souffle

Dinner is served.

* How much do I love eating all these food from our very own garden? Lots!

5.0 from 1 reviews

Vegetable Gratin-Soufflé
Author: 
Serves: 4
 
Ingredients
  • 3 cups vegetables, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • ½ small onion, chopped
  • ½ cup fresh bread crumbs
  • 3 Tbsp butter, divided
  • 1 cup milk
  • ½ cup grated Gruyère or other cheese
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • pinch nutmeg
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 375°. Grease an 8- x 10-inch gratin dish or other shallow ovenproof dish of similar size.
  2. Toss the vegetables with the olive oil and salt and pepper in a large bowl and spread on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast for 10-15 minutes, tossing once to ensure even browning. Remove from the oven when fork tender and set aside.
  3. Meanwhile, melt 1 Tbsp of the butter in a skillet and sauté the onion until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Combine the onion and the roasted vegetables in a large bowl.
  4. In the same skillet, melt the remaining 2 Tbsp butter and brown the breadcrumbs. Stir in the milk and heat until bubbly and warm. Add the breadcrumb mixture to the bowl and stir in along with the cheese and egg yolks. Season with salt and pepper and add the nutmeg.
  5. In a stand mixer using the whisk attachment (or by hand if you’re looking for a workout), beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Gently fold the egg whites into the vegetable mixture. Pour into the prepared pan and bake until puffed and browned, about 25 minutes. Serve immediately.

 

Black bean and cabbage tacos with avocado

Do you ever have one of those evenings when you really, really don’t want to cook? Well, I do. Even though I love cooking, sometimes the day-to-day drudgery gets to me, and I just have nothing left by the time dinner time rolls around.

It happened to me the other day. I had planned to make cabbage rolls for dinner, but, by the time the hubby made it home, I hadn’t even looked up recipes or come up with a solid plan. It just wasn’t gonna happen. I suggested takeout, but neither of us was really feeling it, so the hubby volunteered to throw something together. Instead of cabbage rolls, we ended up with black bean and cabbage tacos.

Taco night!

I thought the idea of a cabbage taco was kind of wacky, but once I started thinking of it like a fish-less fish taco, it made more sense. The spicy, tangy dressing and the creaminess of the avocado make the tacos delicious, and it’s a super-quick meal to throw together — even better if you can get someone else to do it!

We topped them with sour cream and some blender salsa leftover from the last time I made tacos,* and it made a nice, hearty meal. Better yet, it used up a head of cabbage and some carrots that had been languishing in the fridge. Win-win.

* I just strained out the extra moisture, canned it, and have been enjoying it ever since!

Black Bean and Cabbage Tacos with Avocado
Loosely based on this recipe

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed well
2 avocados, peeled, pitted and cubed
juice of one lime
1 clove of garlic, minced or pressed
1 small onion, chopped
1 head of cabbage, cored and shredded
1 large carrot, shredded
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1 serrano pepper, seeded and minced
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
whole wheat tortillas
sour cream and salsa for topping

Place the black beans, avocados, lime juice, garlic, and onion in a medium bowl and toss. Add salt to taste. Place the shredded cabbage, carrot, cilantro, and serrano in another bowl. Add the oil and vinegar and salt to taste and toss to combine.

Build your tacos by adding a generous spoonful of the black bean mixture to a tortilla, then topping with the cabbage mixture. Top with sour cream and salsa, and enjoy!

Chai-spiced carrot cupcakes

I get a lot of carrots through my CSA. I mean, a lot. There are only so many carrot sticks you can eat, and the carrot, lovely as it is raw, is not a vegetable I particularly like in cooked form. So it happened that I had about a 3-week backlog of carrots.

Since I’ve already made carrot vodka, my first thought was carrot cake, but I decided to mix it up a little bit. Rather than make an entire cake, I went for a couple dozen cupcakes, and kicked it up a notch with a chai-inspired spice mix.

Oh yeah.

The cupcakes were delicious — spicy without being overwhelming, and just enough of a twist on the traditional to make them interesting. As for the frosting, well, let’s just say I resisted the urge to eat it with a spoon.

The only thing that could have made it better, in my humble opinion, was the addition of a vanilla bean to the cream cheese frosting, but I didn’t have one on hand — boo! I’d definitely reduce the vanilla extract and add a vanilla bean next time, but it was marvelous anyhow.

Carrot-tastic!

They also make a great breakfast. Not that I would know that from personal experience…

Chai-Spiced Carrot Cupcakes with Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting
Adapted from a recipe from Baking Illustrated

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 Tbs ground cardamom
1/2 tsp salt
6 to 7 medium carrots, peeled (yields about 2 cups grated)
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups canola oil
8 oz cream cheese, softened but still cool
5 Tbs unsalted butter, softened but still cool
1 Tbs sour cream
1 tsp vanilla extract, or 1/2 tsp vanilla extract plus the seeds from one vanilla bean pod
1 1/4 cups powdered sugar

Preheat the oven to 350° and prepare two 12-cup cupcake pans with liners.

Mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, pepper, cloves, cardamom, and salt in the a large bowl and set aside. Shred the carrots in a food processor using the grating disk and mix with the dry ingredients.

Wipe out the food processor and add both sugars and the eggs. Process until well-combined and a bit frothy, about 20 seconds. Add the oil in a steady stream through the feeder tube with the processor running. Add the egg mixture to the dry ingredients and mix to combine.

Spoon the batter into the cupcake liners, filling each approximately 2/3 full. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a rack.

While the cupcakes cool, make the frosting. Combine the butter, cream cheese, sour cream, and vanilla in a food processor or stand mixer and mix until well combined and creamy. Gradually add in the powdered sugar and mix until well combined and no lumps remain.

Frost the cupcakes using an offset spatula, or pipe the frosting on to them if you are more talented than I am. Makes 2 dozen cupcakes.

Warm lentil and kale salad with Dijon vinaigrette

Quick dinners, or at the least, make-ahead dinners, are a must on Monday nights for our family. I sneak out to go to core class, and we eat shortly after I get home. It’s quite a workout, so I am usually famished! This warm lentil salad fit the bill on all accounts.

Ding ding ding!

I made the lentils ahead, which I probably wouldn’t do next time, since they were a little overcooked from sitting in a warm pot, but otherwise this was a clear winner. Lentil salad is a nice change from soups and stews, and a good use for the curly kale that we got in the CSA box. The kale retained a bit of its crispness, which was perfect in this salad.

Yum!

Nora agreed it was tasty, although the texture of the kale was not to her particular liking. Oh well — can’t win ‘em all!

Warm Lentil and Kale Salad with Dijon Vinaigrette
Based on this recipe from Serious Eats

1 cup green lentils
3 cups vegetable stock
3 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch rounds
1 onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 bay leaf
2 Tbs olive oil, divided
1 clove garlic, minced
1 bunch kale, ribs removed and cut into ribbons
2 tsp sherry vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper

In a large saucepan, bring the lentils and vegetable stock to a boil. Add the carrots, onion, and bay leaf and turn the heat down to a low simmer. Simmer until the lentils are tender, about 20 minutes. Drain the lentils and remove the bay leaf. Set aside.

In a saute pan, heat 1 Tbs of the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and saute briefly, then add the kale. Saute until tender, then add to the lentils.

In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining 1 Tbs olive oil, vinegar, and mustard. Season with salt and pepper. Pour the vinaigrette over lentils and toss to combine. Adjust salt and pepper as needed.

Carrot-ginger martini

Wait, what? A carrot martini? Seriously? That sounds almost… healthy.

Yep, you read that right. I was inspired by the gals over at Boozed + Infused (and also by a glut of carrots just sitting in my fridge, just begging to be put to good use) to infuse my own carrot vodka. I figured, why not? This has to be one of those things that tastes better than it sounds, right? It was.

What’s up, doc?

The carrot infused vodka is not something I’d drink by itself, but it’s earthy with just a hint of sweetness. Add some crystallized ginger and a sugared rim, and it makes a lovely cocktail. The hubby thought it tasted vaguely Asian, so I’d definitely pair this with a stir-fry or something. Drink up!

Carrot-Ginger Martini
Based on this recipe from Boozed + Infused

2 oz carrot-infused vodka*
2 tsp chopped crystallized ginger, divided
Baker’s sugar

Place vodka and 1 tsp of the ginger in a shaker filled with ice. Rim a martini glass with sugar and add the remaining ginger, along with a carrot curl from the vodka. Shake the vodka and ginger until very cold and strain into the prepared glass.

* Briefly, peel 3 or 4 carrots (depending on size) and shave them into curls. Put the curls in a mason jar, fill with vodka, seal, and let it sit for at least a week. Here’s a more detailed how-to from Boozed + Infused.

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