Wednesday, October 2, 2019

October 3, 2019 - This Week's Box Contents, Featuring Black Nebula Carrots!

Cooking With This Week's Box

Broccoli Romanesco: One-Pot Vegetable Curry

Black Nebula Carrots: Roasted Purple Carrot Soup with Curried Lentils (see below); Carrot and Parsley Salad (see below)

Red & Yellow Onions: Roasted Purple Carrot Soup with Curried Lentils (see below); Carrot and Parsley Salad (see below); One-Pot Vegetable Curry

This week we have a fun, new vegetable to cook with!  Yes, I know
Black Nebula Carrots
carrots are not a new vegetable, but the Black Nebula Carrots are a new type of carrot and they are super-cool!  I’ve never cooked with a carrot that has this much intense color.  I’m not usually a fan of carrot soup as I find it to be kind of boring and it isn’t a very filling soup.  When I started researching this purple carrot, I was in awe at the beautiful purple color I was seeing in pictures of purple carrot soup.  Would the color really be that vibrant?  I have never eaten purple soup, so I had to give it a try.  This week’s recipe for
Roasted Purple Carrot Soup with Curried Lentils  (see below) is not your typical, boring carrot soup.  This is a simple soup, but it has a lot of flavor.  When I tested the recipe, I took my first bite and said out loud to myself (I was the only one in the kitchen), “Wow! That is delicious!”  I spiced up the lentils with one finely chopped Korean pepper that gave it just the right amount of heat without being too hot.  I really like coconut milk, so I added a little more instead of water.  This soup is sweet, flavorful, smooth and just downright beautiful!

The second recipe is for a very simple Carrot and Parsley Salad (see below).  I’ve made this before with orange carrots, but I have to say it is quite striking with the black nebula carrots.  When you look at the recipe you might think, “there’s not much happening in this salad.”  I thought the same thing the first time I made it.  I can’t explain it, but the simplicity of this salad is what makes it so delicious.  Of course that is assuming you have delicious carrots and fresh parsley!  Serve this as a side dish with a sandwich, roasted or grilled meat, fish, etc.  Leftovers are also good for a few days.

One-Pot Vegetable Curry
This week we’re finishing off the last of our jicama.  Use it to make this light, creamy Jicama Apple Slaw that we featured in our newsletter several years ago, or check out last week’s vegetable feature article and the recipe for Baked Jicama Chips.  When the jicama is gone, we’ll finish off the packing by substituting potatoes.  Use them to make this One-Pot Vegetable Curry.  I love this recipe because you can vary the ingredients depending on what you have available.  In addition to a little potato, I’d recommend including either broccoli Romanesco and/or cauliflower along with sweet peppers!

We’re in the midst of salad season and have a lot of options to choose from with salad greens this week.  I want to try this version of a creamy Greek vinaigrette.  The creaminess comes from including Greek yogurt.  Use it to make a Tossed Salad with Greek Vinaigrette.  You can choose what to put in/on the salad.  My recommendation is to use either the head lettuce or salad mix as the base of the salad.  Top it off with slices of sweet peppers, thinly sliced red onions, olives, and feta cheese.  Before we’re finished with sweet peppers, make this recipe for Creamy Roasted Sweet Pepper Dressing.  This would be another good dressing to use on salads this week!

Squash & Poblano Quesadilla
with Pickled Jaoapenos and Chipotle Creama
A few weeks ago I made pickled jalapenos to go along with this tasty recipe for Squash & Poblano Quesadilla with Pickled Jalapenos and Chipotle Crema.  I had some left and pulled them out earlier this week to use some on our breakfast burritos.  I forgot how much I like pickled jalapenos, but now that I’m reminded I want to make another little jar.  Even two jalapenos makes a decent amount since you don’t need much to get the flavor!  This time I want to try this recipe for Quick, 10-Minute Pickled Jalapenos.

I’m going to wrap up this week’s chat with a few of my favorites from past newsletters.  Every year I make this Spaghetti Squash and Leek Skillet Gratin.  If you have a few leeks still hanging out in your refrigerator, put them to use in this simple yet hearty gratin.  I like this recipe because it’s another one of those transition recipes featuring sweet peppers as the last of the summer veg paired with leeks and spaghetti squash representing fall.  My other two favorites will make use of the baby white turnips.  If you want to use them in a cooked dish, consider this recipe for Creamy Turnip Grits and Greens that we featured earlier this year.  The finishing touch on this dish that brings it altogether is the hot sauce vinaigrette at the very end.  Don’t skip this step—it’s what brings it altogether!  Lastly, I wrote this recipe for White Turnip Salad with Miso Ginger Vinaigrette several years ago and I still like to make it.  It’s simple, fresh, light and flavorful.

Ok, that wraps up this week’s box.  Before I go I’d like to thank everyone who came to our Harvest Party last weekend.  Even though the crowd was small, we all had a good time and I had a lot of fun making the 20 Vegetable Harvest Chili!  Several of you asked for the recipe.  I need a little time to scale down my adaptation to a reasonable batch size.  In the meantime, here’s the original recipe for Chili Con Carne that I fashioned my recipe off of.  It’s a recipe I used as a basis to make chili for the crew when I was cooking as the Seasonal Farm Chef back in 2007!  Have a great week!—Chef Andrea

Vegetable Feature: Black Nebula Carrots

By Chef Andrea

We have a fun vegetable to feature this week—Black Nebula Carrots!  They are such a dark purple color they really do look almost black! This is the first year we’ve grown this variety.  Many purple carrots are disappointing because the purple color is only on the skin and once peeled, the purple is gone and you basically have a yellow or orange carrot.  When we saw this variety, we were enticed because it was touted to have really good color.  Little did we know we had stumbled on a really fun and interesting carrot!

While black carrots are new to us, they are actually the original type of carrot first recorded and thought to have originated in the middle East, specifically Afghanistan.  Orange carrots are actually a newer carrot that is the result of horticulturists’ efforts to hybridize older varieties.  The original carrots were actually purple/black and yellow.  When I first saw this carrot come off the wash line, I have to admit my first thought was “oohh, these are not so beautiful.”  We’re accustomed to seeing more refined carrots with uniform shapes, smoother skin, etc.  This carrot has a different look that I would describe as being similar to how I would describe an old turtle.  This carrot looks ancient and weathered.  These carrots are less refined with some odd twists and bumps that make every carrot unique.  They also have more root hairs that grow in clumps and don’t come off with washing, giving them kind of a crusty, old look.  As I started working with this carrot though, I came to realize its natural beauty and I couldn’t help but think that it also contains an ancient wisdom that will benefit all of us.

There are some things you should understand about this carrot before you use it.  For starters, I’d recommend you peel it.  This isn’t my typical line, but I do think the finished carrot product benefits from peeling first.  You’ll notice the color permeates throughout, right down to the core!  The deep, rich color comes from a group of plant compounds called anthocyanins.  Anthocyanins give fruits and vegetables purple, blue and dark red colors and are found in foods such as beets and blueberries.  They are powerful plant compounds that benefit our bodies in a variety of ways.  They help prevent cancer, are cardio-protective, anti-inflammatory, and may even benefit our neurological health.  The previous sentence doesn’t do justice to the health benefits we reap from eating anthocyanins, which is why it’s so important to include a variety of plants in your diet!  The color compounds in these carrots are so rich, some people actually use them as a natural dye for textiles, Easter eggs, etc.  Yes, they will stain your hands, possibly your cutting board, and your clothes.  I can tell you that the discoloration on your hands will go away in a day or two, especially if you hand wash a few dishes.  The stain on my cutting board also faded quickly.

Salgam, photo from
You can eat these carrots both raw and cooked.  The purple coloring will spread to other ingredients, just as when making things with red beets.  They are delicious roasted, but will also retain their color nicely when stir-fried, boiled and steamed.  They also make a beautiful and nutrient dense juice.  I didn’t try this myself, but I found several references that say adding an acidic ingredient to the juice, such as lemon juice or apple cider vinegar, will turn the juice bright pink!  There are a few traditional preparations from the Middle East that utilize black carrots.  The first is called Carrot Kanji.  This is a fermented black carrot juice drink that is part of northern Indian culture.  It also includes mustard powder and chili powder with the purpose of keeping the body warm in the winter.  In Turkey they make Salgam which is another fermented vegetable drink.

As I’m still learning how to use and appreciate this carrot, I decided to start with some simple preparations that would highlight the innate beauty of this unique carrot.  So this week’s featured recipes include one simple soup and a salad.  Don’t be fooled by their simplicity, they really have a lot of delicious flavor in them and you just feel good knowing you are giving your body such a powerhouse of nutrients!  Let me know how you use your carrots and have fun!

Carrot Parsley Salad

Yield:  3-4 cups
4 cups peeled and shredded purple
   or orange carrots (1-1.25#)
1 cup chopped parsley
1 medium red onion, small diced
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1-2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
3 to 4 Tbsp cold pressed flax oil or extra virgin olive oil
¼ tsp salt, plus more to taste
3 Tbsp toasted unhulled sesame seeds, optional
  1. Place shredded carrots in a medium bowl and add the parsley and onion.  
  2. In a small bowl, combine the lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, oil and ¼ tsp salt.  Whisk to combine and then pour the dressing over the vegetables.
  3. Mix well and let rest for 5-10 minutes.  Take a little taste and adjust the seasoning to your liking with additional salt, lemon juice and/or apple cider vinegar.  If using, stir in the toasted sesame seeds.
  4. The salad tastes best when served immediately, but any leftovers can be stored in the fridge for a few days.
Recipe adapted from Amy Chaplins’ book:  At Home in the Whole Food Kitchen.

Roasted Purple Carrot Soup with Curried Lentils

Yield:  3-4 servings as a main or 4-6 servings as a side dish

1.25# purple carrots (3-4 carrots), peeled and cut into 1-2 inch pieces
1 Tbsp + 2 tsp coconut oil or vegetable oil (divided)
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp fresh ginger, minced
1 medium onion, small dice
2-4 cups water or vegetable stock
1 to 1 ⅔ cups coconut milk
Salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1 Tbsp coconut oil or vegetable oil
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
¼ tsp ground turmeric
2 tsp minced fresh Korean chili or ¼ tsp dried cayenne pepper
¾ cup brown or green lentils
1 ½-2 ½ cups water
½ tsp salt, plus more to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Extra-virgin olive oil, for finishing
Cilantro, chopped, for serving
  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.  Put the carrot pieces in a medium bowl, drizzle with 1 Tbsp melted coconut oil or vegetable oil and sprinkle in 1 tsp salt.  Toss to combine and spread in a single layer on a baking sheet.  
  2. Roast the carrots for 30-40 minutes, turning once or twice during cooking.  You want the carrots to be tender and just starting to get crispy.  Once done, remove from the oven and set aside.
  3. While the carrots are roasting, prepare the remainder of the soup and the lentils.  In a medium saucepot, melt 2 tsp coconut oil.  When the oil is hot, add ginger and onion and saute until the onions are translucent.  Add 2 cups water or vegetable stock and 1 cup coconut milk.  Bring to a simmer and cook, uncovered, for 8-10 minutes.  Remove from heat and set aside.  Cover to keep it warm.
  4. To prepare the lentils, first melt 1 Tbsp oil in a small saucepot.  When the oil is hot, add the cumin, coriander, turmeric and fresh or dried chili.  Stir to combine and cook briefly until the spices are aromatic.  
  5. Stir in the lentils along with 1 ½ cups water.  Bring the lentils to a simmer, then adjust the heat to maintain a gentle simmer.  Cover the pan and cook for 15 minutes.  You may need to add additional water and cook the lentils for an additional 10-20 minutes.  You want them to be soft and tender with just a small amount of liquid remaining in the pan.  As they start to soften, stir in ½ tsp salt.  Once finished, remove from heat and keep warm.
  6. Now it’s time to assemble the soup.  Put the roasted carrots in a blender along with the gingered coconut milk mixture.  Blend until well combined and very smooth.  Taste a little bit.  At this point you will likely need to add more liquid to get the soup to the consistency you desire.  You can add either more coconut milk, water, or stock.  If you add coconut milk the soup will be a little more rich and sweet.  Adjust the seasoning to your liking with salt and freshly ground black pepper as well.
  7. Return the soup to the pan and bring it to an appropriate serving temperature.
  8. Ladle the soup into a bowl and top with the curried lentils and fresh cilantro.
Recipe adapted from

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