Columbian reader Freya Fisher wondered what to do with carrots past their prime.
So here are three recipes starring the slightly aged carrot, waiting patiently in the bottom of our vegetable crispers, getting kind of floppy but staying optimistic about its prospects. Old Carrot, it’s your time to shine.
Carrot Oatmeal Cookies
My husband and daughter — who aren’t too fond of experimentation, poor things — were initially skeptical of this carrot oatmeal cookie recipe from www.crunchycreamysweet.com, but our empty cookie jar is testament to their tastiness.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a big bowl, mix together 1 1/2 cups rolled oats, 1 cup flour, 1/4 cup white sugar, 1/2 cup packed brown sugar, 3/4 teaspoon baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger, 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/2 cup melted butter, 1 egg, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract, 1/2 cup raisins or chopped nuts and 1 cup of freshly grated carrots. Pro tip: Use the fine grater so you won’t have big carrot noodles in your cookies.
Chill the dough for about an hour so it’s not as sticky; then use a tablespoon to drop even mounds onto a greased cookie sheet a couple inches apart. (Squish the mounds down just a bit, otherwise you’ll get oatmeal carrot balls.) Bake for 10 minutes, then carefully transfer to a wire rack. They’ll be soft at first, but they’ll firm up as they cool.
For the cream cheese drizzle, use a mixer to blend 4 ounces (half a block) of cream cheese with 1/2 cup powdered sugar and a dash of vanilla. Add 3 to 4 tablespoons milk, or enough to make it drizzly. If you don’t have cream cheese, just add a little milk to powdered sugar until it’s thick and slightly runny. Arrange the cookies on the counter, dip a spoon into the icing, and messily sling it across the cookies to make yummy icing stripes. Eat the cookies right away — the icing will be sticky — or let the icing dry for an hour before putting the cookies in a jar, or in your tummy.
This recipe for carrot souffle is from www.food.com, inspired by a popular dish at Piccadilly, a buffet-style restaurant with locations across the southeastern United States. Don’t be intimidated by “souffle”: There’s no fussy egg whites and no possibility of “falling.” The real recipe is top secret, but since I’ve never had the real thing, it makes no difference!
Peel and slice 6 to 7 cups of carrots (roughly a 1 3/4 pound). Boil or steam them until they’re extremely soft, even squishy. This is the key to a smooth texture. While the carrots are still warm, add 3/4 cup sugar, 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder and 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla. Whip with a mixer until very smooth, then add 2 tablespoons of flour and mix some more.
In a separate bowl, mix 3 eggs until they’re frothy. Fold this into the carrot mixture, along with a whole stick of softened butter. Blend well and pour into a 3-quart baking dish, allowing room to fluff up a bit during baking.
Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve warm. This dish is also delicious with a teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice, a teaspoon of powdered ginger, or even better, freshly grated ginger.
The last recipe is my favorite way to eat carrots because it involves full-fat milk and sugar. It’s a variation of gajar ka halwa, or carrot pudding, an Indian treat made to celebrate special events. The real gajar ka halwa is made with ghee, or clarified butter, and cardamom, and it is simmered and stirred for hours while the carrots soften and absorb the milk. However, I don’t have ghee, cardamom or the patience to stand over the stove for that long, so here’s a slow-cooker version from www.instructables.com.
Peel and finely grate 2 pounds of carrots, about 7 or 8 cups when grated. Put them in a crock pot with 4 cups of whole milk. Cook on high for 3 to 4 hours.
Add 2 cups sugar, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg and 4 tablespoons butter or ghee. If you have cardamom, by all means, use that instead of cinnamon and nutmeg. You can also add 1/2 cup of optional mix-ins, such as raisins, cashew pieces, almond slivers or pistachio halves. Cook on high for another three to four hours, stirring occasionally to keep the sides and bottom from burning. The pudding is done when the carrots have absorbed all the milk.
You can also add all the ingredients at the beginning and cook on high for six to eight hours, but the sugar may prevent the carrots from fully absorbing the milk and they’ll retain a slight crunch. Either way, it’s a delightful way to pretend you’re being healthy by eating vegetables.