Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Carrot lucky dip

If your carrots come up looking like normal, perfectly formed carrots, then you can afford to say: "I love the way harvesting carrots is like a lucky dip - each time you don't know what you're going to get." But if your carrots come up misshapen, forked, weirdo, then you're probably a lot less delighted by the lucky dip analogy. My most recent mini carrot harvest for dinner had a bit of both, but mostly I got lucky...

For starters, let's be positive and say that almost all of the carrots yanked from their bed turned out like these guys.

My carrot patch is very small, and not in the best vegie-growing spot in the garden, either. But I was determined to improve on my last attempt, which consisted mostly of misshapen weirdos.

The problem is that the little bit of carrot poking above the soil gives you no clue as to what lies beneath. If all goes well the delicious orange root pokes down several more inches and tapers to a lovely point. But if fate in the guise of several possible problems/mistakes intervenes, then you end up with a weirdo.

Hooray! Another completely normal one. I think the secret this year was even better soil preparation than last year (ie, deeper digging and getting a finer tilth to the soil), plus sowing seed directly where the crop is to grow. Last year I used seedlings, and it was only later that I read that carrots don't like being transplanted. And yep, they don't like fresh fertiliser near their forming roots, either.

As pictured earlier, most of the carrots harvested last night were delightfully normal. Well, almost all of them were...

But there had to be one weirdo, didn't there?

However, I can live with this one oddball, as compared with last year's misshapen efforts, this year's are much better. I think the key was sowing seed directly, plus the better soil preparation. Carrots are related to parsnips and also parsley, and all of these plants do much better when grown from seed sown straight into the bed. As my carrot patch didn't enjoy an ideal amount of vegie-growing sunshine (what I might call one of my 'B-grade' patches, OK but not textbook sunny) it's not a bad result.

They'll be turned into a Moroccan-style carrot salad. This one, by Sydney cookery writer Maureen Simpson.

750g carrots, peeled and steamed or boiled until tender

1 small clove garlic, crushed
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh chilli
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
pinch of sugar
salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons chopped coriander (cilantro) leaves
6 fresh dates, finely sliced

You can leave small carrots whole, or cut larger ones into chunks. Steam or boil until tender.
To make the dressing, combine the garlic, paprika, cumin, chilli, lemon juice olive oil, sugar, salt and pepper in a screw-topped jar and shake. Pour over the drained, cooked carrots while they're still warm.
Garnish with the coriander leaves and sliced dates. Serve warm or cold as a side dish.


Dot said...

Jamie your carrots look magnificent! and what a gorgeous sounding salad. Yum =)

prue said...

Yum! Great carrots. I just pulled the last of mine so it'll be a wait now for the next crop. Enjoy the carrots (particularly the oddly shaped one!)

Michelle said...

Two picture perfect and one weirdo, that's great! And the recipe sounds really good too. Carrots are fun to harvest, it's like treasure hunting.

Evelyn Howard said...

I'm planting carrots for the first time and I only have a balcony. If mine is anything like yours (even if they are a bit misshapen), I'd be really happy!

Anonymous said...

Beautiful carrots, and great size!

Lanie said...

Wow - they look fantastic. I must admit that I haven't tried growing 'real' carrots. I go for the small round ones that pretty much are guaranteed to be, well, small and round. Having seen your crop though, I think I might stop cheating and try next year. Cheers.