From my aunt’s vegetable patch: Carrots

by Ana-Marija

I am not one of those militant super-moms who only feed awesome-bio-trendy foods to their babies, but I do love it when my little one shows interest in anything even remotely healthful. Given her medical history (more on that on some other occasion), I find it to be quite a relief whenever I manage to feed her well. This is where my aunt’s vegetable patch comes in handy.

My aunt Tina and uncle Đivo live in Župa dubrovačka, a sort of a rural suburb which is becoming increasingly urbanized as we speak. Shopping malls, big supermarkets, fancy hotels perched on beaches, apartment blocks, you name it, it’s all coming to Župa. However, theirs is a house surrounded by peace and quiet and, most importantly, a garden. All their produce is organic, not treated with pesticides and besides being oh-so-good-for-you, it’s also incredibly tasty. So the moment when my grandmother (she is usually the courier between my aunt&uncle and myself)gives me a bag full of Tina’s vegetable goodies – usually in a hurry – is always a great one. ‘Great things are about to happen’, I think to myself (great things usually mean soup).

This winter was a cold one and unfortunately most of Tina’s vegetables were destroyed by the snow. I managed to preserve some basil by blanching & freezing it and I also stocked up on sweet potatoes before the blizzard hit, but that’s about it. Now we’re eagerly awaiting the next round and with spring in the air, I am very much looking forward to it.

Just the other day, my grandmother rushed in with a bag full of baby carrots (if you follow my Instagram feed, you may notice #ihavethisthingwithcarrots). Knowing what was inside, I didn’t open it, but rather placed it in the fridge.

When I opened it a day or two later, surprise, surprise… There was a pair of glasses mingling with the carrots. Talk about proof that all the produce is hand-picked!

So besides the obvious baby food, what else can you do if you have some carrots on hand?

Carrot and potato soup

This is one of my favorite soups ever. I don’t cook it following a strict recipe, rather following my nose and what I have at home. Start by browning some onions on a glug of olive oil and some butter. Season. Add a chopped clove of garlic. Peel and slice carrots, dice a potato or two and add them to the pot. Cover with vegetable stock (made from a cube is fine by me when I’m in a hurry) and cook until the vegetables are tender. Puree with an immersion blender, season to taste and add any toppings you wish. A dash of chili heats things up in winter whereas turmeric works in all seasons.

Carrot cake

I guess most people have their own favorite recipe when it comes to this classic, but here is a tip: include some nuts in the batter (I find that a combination of almonds and walnuts works best) and serve the cake with a generous dollop of mascarpone with a bit of sugar and cinnamon.

Roasted vegetables

This is a life-saver when you’re short on time. Another no-recipe thing. Potatoes, fennel, carrot, onions, garlic, beet. Slice them, place in a roasting tin, add some olive oil, salt and pepper, perhaps a bit of wine later in the process and pop the tin on high heat in the oven. The caramelized vegetable bits will turn even the most ordinary weekday meal into something more memorable.

Carrots with hummus

Pretty self-explanatory, right? It is worth mentioning that the carrot sticks have to be of great quality in this case. I mean, if you’re about to replace delicious, crunchy crackers with raw vegetables, they’d better be worth it.

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