Rainbow Carrots with Cardamon and Orange

I found carrots in assorted colors at the store recently. Since I’d been eyeing colorful heirloom carrot varieties in seed catalogs and wondering what the flavor was like, I thought I’d give these a try. The good news is that they taste just like carrots. I cooked them with seasoning, but nibbled on the ends I cut off while preparing them. The red-purple color goes deeply into the carrot, so you don’t have to worry about peeling the pretty color off. I noticed that one of the red carrots had a yellow center and one had an orange center. I’m not sure if this indicates that they are two different varieties or if this is simply a variation from one carrot to another. Notice that the yellow carrots have no discernible core.

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I think both these red-purple carrots and the yellow carrots would be best used in recipes which use raw uncooked carrots, such as carrot and raisin salad, or my Frankenslaw. (The two-toned carrots would make interesting carrot sticks!) They taste great cooked, but the darker carrots got darker and were less attractive cooked, while the yellow carrots became dingy-looking from being cooked with the darker carrots. From this one experiment, I can’t really say how well the yellow carrots hold their color, since they were cooking in water that turned dark from the red-purple carrots!

But never fear, they tasted wonderful! For this first time I boiled the carrots. I might have had less trouble with the color from one bleeding into the other if I’d roasted them. (And I’ve had no trouble with color transference at all if I’d cooked only one variety instead of mixing them.)

I covered them in just enough water to cook, and added a smidgen of cardamon and a tad of dried grated orange peel for three large carrots. (I have measuring spoons that literally have these small gradations of “smidgen” and “tad”.) I brought the water to a boil, then turned it down to a simmer. I cooked the carrots until they were tender when I poked them with a fork. Part of the time I cooked them uncovered and part of the time covered. When boiling carrots I want to use as little water as I can and cook it down so that I don’t have a huge amount of cooking liquid left; I want the seasoning flavoring the carrots, not a potful of water.

This is a good recipe if you want your carrots to taste slightly sweet, without adding brown sugar or honey. If you prefer savory carrots, with butter, salt, and pepper, this is not a savory carrot recipe, though it probably would take butter or margarine okay.

Cardamon is a strong flavor and you have to be careful not to use so much that it overwhelms any other seasonings. The trick is to use just the right proportions to make the flavors blend. I love cardamon and probably could’ve done with a bit more of it. I don’t usually measure when I cook, but if I’m writing a recipe here for others to use, then I do measure. I was probably a bit more conservative on the cardamon than usual. Cardamon, orange peel and carrots are a lovely combination. Try it and adjust the seasonings to your own taste! 🙂

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