You thought avocados were your thing? Now carrots are the next hot trend – who new? More and more people are buying British organic veg as we’re becoming wiser about where our food comes from, especially if you’re already on the vegan path.
What does organic mean?
If food is labeled as organic it means fewer pesticides, no artificial additives or preservatives, some of the highest standards of animal welfare and no GM ingredients. Most organic food has been certified by the Soil Association Certification who campaign for healthy, humane and sustainable food, farming and land use.
Should I only buy organic?
It can be daunting to suddenly feel like you need to buy all-organic and then have to increase your budgets. But it doesn’t have to be bank-breaking and it doesn’t need to be all at once. If you can only change one thing, try carrots.
Clare McDermott, Business Development Director from Soil Association Certification, the UK’s largest certifier of organic food comments:
“Last year, millennials spent a higher proportion of their shop on organically grown carrots. The price gap between organic and conventional has widened slightly as the market for conventionally grown carrots has become more competitive. We can see loyalty to organic has decreased slightly overall, which is what we might expect, but millennial shoppers have gone against this expectation which shows they have a good value perception of organic carrots.
Every time we choose organic we are choosing food as it should be. Choosing organic means that you are supporting farming practices with a more traceable production process and you’ll always know what’s in your food as well as moving the UK towards a more sustainable food system which is great for ourselves and the land.”
How do I start buying organic?
‘Choosing food as it should be’ is the key. Think of it as being able to enjoy the true potential of your food. Enhancing the taste and quality of everything you eat. You’d be surprised by how much tastier your food can be when its organic.
If you’re feeling lost about where to go now, the Soil Association have launched the Organic Food Finder – an online tool to help you find your local supplier of fresh, Soil Association-certified organic fresh produce. This might be a box scheme, local markets or direct from the farm gate.
Now… what do I do with these carrots?
You’ve picked up the good stuff, now you can try out some delicious recipes to make the most of them. The Soil Association have curated lots of recipes to get you started, here are 3 carrot based recipes…
Crushed Carrot Salad with Crispy Spiced Chickpeas & Kefir Dressing
This is a salad in a loose sense of the word. Rather it is the coming together of plenty of complementary elements.
40g flaked almonds
1 tin chickpeas
Light olive oil
½ red onion
1 garlic clove
1 tsp Dijon mustard
2 tsp agave nectar
1 tsp cumin
2 tsp smoked paprika
Preheat oven to 200°C/Gas Mark 6. Toast the almonds on a roasting tray for 2-3 minutes until lightly golden in colour. Be careful not to burn them. Meanwhile, drain the chickpeas and rinse under cold water. Tip them into the clean tea towel and pat them as dry as you can.
Remove the almonds, throw them with a dash of oil and a pinch of salt. Keep to one side. Place the chickpeas in the roasting tray with 2 tablespoons of oil and season well with salt and pepper. Mix well and spread them out so they are one layer deep.
Peel the carrots and cut into equal sized angled wedges, about 2cm by 5cm. Zest and juice the lemon.
Pop the carrots into another baking tray. Add half of the lemon juice, 2 tablespoons of water and enough oil to generously coat the carrots. Season with salt and pepper. Mix well and tightly cover the tray with foil. Place the chickpeas on the top oven shelf and the carrots on the shelf below.
Roast for 20 minutes. Giving the chickpeas a turn twice during cooking. They should be a golden nutty brown. Remove early if they look like burning. Prepare the rest of the veg by peeling and very finely slicing half of the red onion. Wash the mint and parsley, shake them dry.
Pick the leaves off both and finely chop them separately. Peel and finely chop or crush 1 garlic clove. Wash and dry the watercress. Make the dressing by whisking the mustard and half the garlic with the kefir. Season with salt and pepper, and stir in the mint.
Remove the carrots and chickpeas from the oven. Remove the foil from the carrots. Mix in the agave and return to the oven for 10-15 minutes until tender. Add the cumin, paprika and half the chopped parsley to the chickpeas. Mix well and leave to cool slightly.
When the carrots are ready, give them a rough bash with a wooden spoon or potato masher. You want to lightly smash them into coarse pieces. Do this in the roasting tray so as they soak up the lemony oil.
Mix the warm crushed carrots with the spiced chickpeas, red onion and watercress. Divide it equally between 2 plates. Artfully spoon the dressing across the salad. Scatter over the almonds, remaining parsley and a little lemon zest.
Carrot Top Salsa Verde
100g carrot tops
25g anchovies or green pitted olives
2 tsp capers
½ garlic clove
1 lemon, zest (and juice, optional)
A hint of chilli (optional)
1–3 tbsp olive oil
Give the carrots tops a really good wash. Pat dry.
Pile into a food processor or on a chopping board along with the anchovies (or olives), capers, garlic and lemon zest.
Pulse or finely chop with a large knife until it’s the consistency of finely chopped parsley.
Add enough olive oil (and a little water or lemon juice) till as thick or as thin as you like.
Gorgeous tossed with cooked spelt grains and roasted carrots.
Carrot Soup with Ginger and Orange
1 tbsp vegetable oil
700g carrots, washed and sliced 1 union
2 garlic cloves, crushed
½ red chili, finely chopped
20g ginger, grated
Fresh orange juice from 2 oranges, squeezed
1L vegetable stock
Heat the oil in a large pan, add the onions, carrots and garlic, sauté for 4mins, until they are beginning to soften but not colour.
Stir in the chili and ginger, and plenty of seasoning and cook for 1min.
Add the stock and bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 20mins or until the carrots are really tender.
Whizz the soup with a stick blender or transfer to a food processor.
Add the orange juice and chilli flakes to taste and adjust the seasoning as necessary.
Reheat until just hot but not boiling and serve.
Garnish with a swirl of cream and some fresh parsley or coriander if liked.