An Array Of Colorful Carrots

Kelly and Yuichi Sato with friends at SOS Farms

SOS Farms provides a convenient alternative to grocery shopping. Every week, the Satos pool from local farmers and vendors and offer members a selection of Kaua’i-grown and -made products. This pay-as-you-go service includes farm-fresh eggs and produce from SOS Farms as well as cucumbers, mushrooms, taro, tomatoes, dried fruit, honey, pastries and bread. Wednesday home deliveries to Kilauea and Princeville are free for orders of more than $20.

What’s growing now: Arugula, asparagus, beets, orange carrots, Ethiopian kale, Swiss chard, collard greens, cucumber, curly kale, golden frill mustard, green beans, herbs, komatsuna (Japanese mustard spinach), Lacinato kale, leeks, lettuce, mizuna, Siberian kale, soy beans, yellow beans.

CARROTS

Purple, white, yellow and red are the original colors of carrots. The Dutch are credited with taking wild orange carrots and developing their sweet characteristics. The Satos grow orange carrots and sell them while they’re young and tender with the tops still on.

Carrots come in a variety of shapes and sizes, from round, stubby French market carrots to long, pointed cylindrical varieties, from 3-inch “babies” to immense storage or “horse” carrots. Don’t automatically dismiss larger carrots; often they are the best-tasting.

Season: Carrots take three months to grow, and are in season all year except summer. On Kaua’i, summertime heat raises soil temperatures and bakes the carrots while they’re in the ground. They peak from February through May.

Carrot tops indicate freshness, and are edible. Daniel Lane photos

What to look for: Look for firm, clean carrots with the tops in good condition. The lacy greens indicate freshness and begin to fade after three days. Carrots that are limp or have hairlike roots are old and will be dry. Cracks indicate woody cores. Although not a problem for stocks or juice, cracked carrots aren’t ono eats.

Storage: If tops are left on, they will dry out the carrots. To store, remove all tops and put carrots in a plastic bag. They will keep in the vegetable crisper for two weeks.

Tip: Carrot tops have a strong carrot flavor. They can be used in stocks, salads or as a substitute for parsley.

Preparation: Enjoy carrots raw or cooked. Use them for soups, salads, purees and juice. They’re a strong element in stews, stocks and stir-fries. Braising and roasting concentrate their flavors. Carrots pair well with butter, olive oil, cream, sesame oil, thyme, chervil, lovage, dill, cumin, ginger, mint, cilantro, chili peppers, mustard, honey, brown sugar, maple syrup and citrus, especially oranges.

Health benefits: Carrots are especially high in vitamin A and an excellent source of antioxidants. According to the USDA Agricultural Research Center, antioxidant compounds in carrots are believed to guard against cardiovascular disease, cancer and promote good vision, especially night vision.

SOS produce can be found at:

Carrots come in a delicious variety of colors. Daniel Lane photos

Farmers Markets: Kilauea (Thursdays at 4:30 p.m.), Namahana Farmers Market by Banana Joe’s (Saturday, 9 a.m.) Call 346-6843 or visit sosfarms.com for more information.

SUNBURST CARROT SALAD

With crunchy nuts and spicy chilies, this light salad is vibrant and flavorful. It’s fantastic alongside seared fish such as ono. If you don’t have Hawaiian chili peppers or blood oranges, feel free to substitute whatever you have on hand. Adapted and reprinted with permission from 101cookbooks.com.

* 2 bunches of carrots
* extra virgin olive oil
* Hawaiian sea salt
* 1 Hawaiian chili pepper, deveined and minced
* zest and juice from 1 blood orange
* 1 cup chopped cilantro
* 1 cup green pumpkin seeds (pepitas), toasted

Wash carrots and use a vegetable peeler to shave each carrot into wide ribbons. If your carrots have beat-up, dirty skins, peel them first before making ribbons.

Purple and orange carrots were used in this salad

Heat a big splash of olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add a big pinch of salt and stir in the carrot ribbons. Saute for just 20 seconds or so barely long enough to take the raw edge and a bit of crunch off the carrots. Quickly stir in the chilies and citrus zest.

Remove from heat and stir in the cilantro, about 1 tablespoon of citrus juice, and then most of the pepitas. Taste. Add more salt and/or citrus juice, if needed. Garnish with remaining pepitas.

Makes four to six servings.

Correction: The crust for Golden Pomelo Bars requires 5 tablespoons of sugar. The measurements were omitted in the Feb. 22 issue of MidWeek Kaua’i.

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