One of the most inexpensive vegetables of substance, besides potatoes, are carrots. You can buy large bags of carrots for just a few dollars and add them to almost every meal, adding essential nutrients to your diet. Carrots are a surprisingly versatile vegetable -- they appear in most cuisines throughout the world, and even in some desserts. Plus, they're simple to grow in your own backyard, even in a small plot of dirt. Looking for ways to integrate carrots into your diet? Try some of these suggestions!
Any red pasta sauce can be improved with the addition of carrots. Make carrot coins and sauté them in with a variety of other vegetables -- green bell peppers, celery, tomatoes, mushrooms, and onions are great in American-Italian dishes -- in some olive oil before adding the tomato sauce. You can also shred a carrot or two and add the shavings as a thickener if you are going for a less chunky sauce.
An Asian stir fry dish often calls for carrots in the recipe, but even if it doesn't, this orange vegetable goes very well with the spicy and sour flavors of Asian cuisine. Try julienne cutting the carrots, or make them into diagonal rounds, and add them when you add the other vegetables during the frying process.
Carrots fare very well in soup, as they don't disintegrate even when cooked to the point of being extremely soft. You can make carrot-specific soups, usually with curry as your main spice, or you can add them to "kitchen sink soups" (the kind where you throw in everything but the kitchen sink -- perfect for a fridge full of leftovers and odds and ends). Most canned soups include carrots because they are inexpensive and go with every flavor, so consider adding them to chicken noodle, beef, and minestrone soups.
Carrot salad is a dish in which grated carrots are mixed with sweet extras such as raisins and nuts, as well as mayonnaise and sugar. It's a great potluck dish, since it goes with just about any American-style entrée. You can find a wide range of recipes online, as everyone has their own variation on this dish.
Carrots make a great side dish, from roasted with rosemary to boiled and then coated with brown sugar and butter to pilaf with carrot cubes. You can find some amazing and simple carrot side dish recipes here: http://allrecipes.com/Recipes/Side-Dish/Vegetables/Carrots/Newest.aspx Pretty much any herb or spice in your pantry can go with carrots, so be creative when putting together your own side dishes!
Finally, carrots are a wonderful part of many a dessert bread. Carrot cake with cream cheese icing is a classic; if you use lite cream cheese and cut down on the fat in the cake, you can indulge in a delicious treat without feeling too guilty. Or you can make carrot bread as a delicious and healthy accompaniment to your lunch.
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