My CSA box has graced me with so many carrots this season that I’ve had to look for new ways to make them … they’re super cute, because they’re mini carrots. But I, my mom and the yoga center have been blessed with so many carrots this year. And they keep coming each week.
Roasting is a great and easy way to enjoy carrots. Just drizzle them with seasonings and leave them in a toaster oven for about 30 minutes, enough time for me to do my daily meditation.
This is how I made them the last time…
ORANGE’D ROASTED CARROTS
3-4 mini carrots, washed and peeled
The juice of one orange
About ½ tbs of Olive oil
A sprig of fresh thyme
Kosher salt and Freshly cracked pepper
- I wash well and peel the carrots… if you don’t peel them, they show this darker skin on top after you cook them that is not very appealing to me.
- Place carrots in a roasting dish, squeeze the orange juice over them, add the olive oil, and season with salt, pepper and thyme. Make sure the carrots are well coated with everything.
- Place in a 400F oven for about 30 mins. The juice will reduce quite a bit…
Enjoy as a side dish…
I’ve always loved Chinese food. Ever since I was little my parents have been taken us to Chinese restaurants regularly… past favorites were always Sweet and Sour (fill in the blank), Pepper (fill in the blank), BBQ (fill in the blank)…
When I first moved to NYC, I went to lunch with my dad and he suggested I should try the Chicken with Cashew Nuts… Cashew Nuts!!! What are those?? Well a few minutes later, I was a convert for life. And after that day that became my usual order at Chinese restaurants.
When I decided to become vegetarian, I would order at restaurants Chicken with Cashew Nuts WITHOUT the Chicken. It was the simplest way for me to describe to Chinese waiters that I wanted sautéed vegetables with cashew nuts. I even ordered it so often at a restaurant close to my former place of employment that I stopped describing it – just ordered the usual – Sautéed Broccoli with Onions, Peppers, Carrots and Cashew Nuts.
I just looooooove the combination of soy-based sauce with the crunch of the nuts… This is the version I make at home. This version has tofu, but most of the time I leave it out. The protein in the nuts is enough for me.
CASHEW AND TOFU STIR FRY
1 medium onion, chopped into medium sized pieces
1 medium green bell pepper, chopped into medium sized pieces
1 small carrot, peeled and sliced thin using a vegetable peeler
1 tbs canola oil
Canola Oil Spray
Marinated Tofu slices
¼ cup tamari sauce
1 tsp cornstarch
The juice of 1 lime
1 handful of roasted cashews
1 cup of whole grain basmati rice – to serve
For the Marinated Tofu:
- Take half a block of Extra Firm Tofu and slice it into ¼” slices. I take a baking sheet, line it with 2-3 layers of paper towel, place the tofu slices on top of the paper towel, cover them with 2-3 more layers of paper towels, top with another baking sheet and apply some weight on top. Press it for about 30 minutes to 1 hour.
- In a medium skillet, sprayed with canola medium-high heat we need to get the tofu pieces golden. Just place them on the skillet until they get some color.
- While that is happening, mix together in a shallow pyrex dish the tamari sauce, the lime juice and a bit of water. Dip the tofu pieces in the tamari/lime mixture and let them soak the seasoning. Soak them for about 15-20 minutes and set them aside.
Now on to the stir-fry…
- Prep the vegetables while the tofu pieces are marinating.
- In a medium-sized skillet, over medium-high heat again, heat up the canola oil. Add the onions, peppers and carrots and sauté them until they begin to cook, but are still crunchy. Add the tofu pieces so they can dry up a bit and get hot. Stir everything together.
- Mix the leftover tamari/lime mixture with the cornstarch. If you have little sauce left (less than ¼ cup) just add a bit more tamari or lime juice, whatever you prefer.
- After a few minutes, add the cashews to the skillet. Mix well the tamari/cornstarch mixture and add to the skillet. The sauce will thicken as it heats up. When the sauce gets somewhat thick, turn the stove off. Don’t let the sauce get too thick on you.
Serve over whole-grain basmati rice.
What to do when you have leftover sauce from your Undercover Carrot Mac & Cheese?? Pour it on top of steamed potatoes… what else??
Another way to sneak in carrots into your kids meals…
About 10 fingerling potatoes, washed well and cut in half
About ½ cup of leftover sauce from this recipe here
- In a medium sauce pan place the fingerling potatoes. Add enough water to the bottom of the pan, where about half of the potatoes are still exposed. I find that potatoes cook better and faster when only a small amount of water is added to the pot.
- Salt the potatoes and swirl the water in the pan for the salt to combine with the water.
- Cover and let it boil/steam over medium heat for about 15 minutes. Check the potatoes for doneness. If they’re still underdone, let them go for about 2-3 minutes more and without uncovering, turn off the stove.
- After about 10-15 minutes, the potatoes will be perfectly steamed and at the right temperature to handle. I sometimes take the skin off after I steam them… but that’s entirely if to you.
- While the potatoes are resting, heat the leftover sauce. After it’s warm, pour on top of potatoes.
Serve with a nice side salad for a light dinner…
I am experimenting with ways to sneak in more vegetables into my nieces’ diet… I know their moms try very hard, but they take the path of least resistance often to avoid confrontation. Hey, I understand perfectly after spending 5 glorious 24-hour days with them.
Because they love macaroni and cheese, I thought I would try how it would taste “sneaking in” some carrots. I have done this with butternut squash and pumpkin in the past… so why not try with another orange vegetable? And carrots are cheaper and more readily available in my fridge than those other options.
I was fascinated by the concept of hiding vegetables and nutrients into kids’ diets when the book Deceptively Delicious came out. I think it’s a great concept and one to try not only with kids, but for us as adults too. Sometimes you know something is good for you, but you just don’t like to make it just for yourself… or you just like certain vegetables in certain preparations, not others. What I also liked about the book is that besides “sneaking” vegetables into kids’ meals, it stressed you should always include a side of vegetables on your kids’ plates. The fact that added veggies are hidden within the recipe does not excuse the fact we need to teach kids it’s important to eat salads and vegetables as part of a healthy diet. The hidden veggies are just an insurance policy if they decide not to try the side of veggies that time around.
The mac and cheese turned out really nice… because I first tried it on myself and I was not too keen on dirtying my food processor, I just mashed the carrots into the sauce. But the time I actually do make it for my nieces I will puree the carrots to make it blend in more with the rest of the cheese sauce.
UNDERCOVER CARROT MAC & CHEESE
3 medium carrots, steamed and pureed
1 cup buttermilk
½ cup Cheez Whiz – I don’t normally use this ingredient, but I had it in the fridge and I felt bad just throwing it away. You can substitute very well with cheddar cheese
½ cup cottage cheese
¼ cup parmesan cheese, divided
1/3 lbs of whole-grain pasta – I used whole wheat penne
- Pre-heat oven or toaster oven to 350 F.
- Bring a large pot filled with very salty water to a boil and cook pasta according to package directions. I usually give it about 10-12 minutes.
- While the pasta water is coming to a boil, prepare the cheese sauce… in a medium sauce pan over medium heat add the buttermilk and carrot puree. When that is warm, add the cottage cheese, most of the parmesan, cheez whiz or cheddar and let it all melt together. Watch out it does not boil because it will make the buttermilk runny/watery… just enough for all the cheeses to come together as a sauce.
- When the pasta and sauce are done, drain the pasta and combine it with the sauce. Place them in a pyrex casserole dish, sprinkle with some of additional parmesan cheese and place in oven.
- It will take about 15-20 minutes for the cheese on top to brown… that’s when you take it out.
- Wait about 20 minutes for the cheese sauce to stop bubbling and dig in…
When I make these recipes, I usually don’t measure and eye-ball the ingredients. I had some extra sauce that did not fit the casserole dish and used it to top some steamed potatoes… they were extra delicious too.
Today we celebrate the Discovery of Puerto Rico… or the day Christopher Columbus landed on the Island of Puerto Rico for the first time in 1493. Because if you ask the Taínos who already lived on the Island, they already knew Boriquén existed and they needed no discovery of any kind.
I wanted to commemorate this day with a very Puerto Rican dish – SANCOCHO. The name is not that pretty, but it tastes awesome. It’s a stew/soup of many root vegetables, or as we call them locally, viandas. It’s great for those rainy days in November… as we thankfully say goodbye to the hurricane season, which fortunately has left Puerto Rico unscathed this year.
I’ll be honest, when I make this dish, I’ve made it for 40 people at a time… so bear with me when I try to scale the measurements for something more in tune with a regular family of 4.
3 medium potatoes, can be russet, red skin, Yukon gold, cleaned and cubed
2 medium carrots, peeled and cut in ¼ inch rounds
1 medium yautía blanca, peeled and cubed
1 medium yautía lila, peeled and cubed
1 small malanga (taro root), peeled and cubed
2 celery stalks, cleaned and sliced thin
1 small onion, diced
1 small bell pepper, diced
1 corn on the cob
¼ head of white cabbage
2 tomatoes, peeled and cut in small dice
2 tbs sofrito
1 tbs olive oil
1 vegetable bouillon cube
2 bay leaves
½ bunch cilantro (optional), chopped
1 tsp Herbamare seasoning (optional)
1 tbs Salt, divided
10-15 turns of the mill of Freshly Cracked Ground Pepper, divided
Avocado slices, for garnish at the end
- In the largest stock pot you have, start by adding the olive oil, sofrito, onion, bell pepper, celery and bouillon cube. Smash the cube so that it melts in with the rest of the ingredients. Allow for the celery, onions and peppers to soften. Add the tomatoes and let those juices mix together. Season with a little salt and pepper.
- Add the viandas – potatoes, carrots, yautías, , malanga – and the cabbage. Mix well with the ingredients already on the pot. Add water until covering 1 inch over the contents of the pot. Add the bay leaves, the chopped cilantro leaves, the Herbamare seasoning, some additional salt and pepper. Taste to check the water is well seasoned. Cover. Let it come to a boil and simmer at medium heat for about 30-40 minutes.
- Check the pot every so often and move the sancocho around, to avoid the bottom from scorching. When you reach the 20 minute mark, add the pieces of corn on the cob. Cover again and let it boil for the last 10 – 20 minutes. Make sure the root vegetables are fork tender.
- Turn off the stove and let the sancocho finish cooking with the residual heat from the pot and stove. Allow it to rest and mellow for about 20 minutes. The soup will maintain hot for about 1 hour, no problem.
- When you’re ready to eat, garnish on top with slices of avocado… and if you want, you can drizzle a squirt of lime juice too.
This is a stew perfect for cold and rain days. This is what we almost always eat after a few days of fasting at a Yoga Retreat. It’s full of vitamins and nutrition and will even “revive the dead”. There is a lot of ingredients, but it’s all chop and dump… not that difficult.
You can eat it with plain whole-grain rice…