This time of year, when the last summer vegetables are just hanging on (like peaches!), carrots are thriving. When people think of carrots, they usually think orange, but there’s all sorts of colors, like white, red, or purple. Come fall, baby carrots with names like Thumbelina and Little Finger, and Nantes carrots, dubbed “Nelson.” While red and orange carrots taste the same, purple and white carrots are far sweeter, and great to eat raw. As a general rule, you can assume the darker the color of the carrot is, the sweeter it is. If you’re looking for a little color on the plate, an assortment of colored carrots gives the plate a kick of beautiful autumn color.
When picking carrots, make sure that they’re firm, and don’t be fooled by size. Bigger isn’t always better – smaller carrots can be sweeter and fresher. Purple, white, red, and orange carrots can be found in bunches at the Farmers Market, particularly the Union Square Farmers Market, where carrots are sold in large, mixed bunches, and occasionally in grocery stores. Carrots should be stiff, not wilted. If you buy carrots with the greens attached, cut them off once you get home and put the carrots in wrapped plastic in the fridge. (You can even save the greens and saute them or toss them in a salad for added crunch.)
We sometimes banish carrots to the crudite section, but this fall you might try preparing them a bunch of different ways. Try shredding carrots and tossing them with white wine vinegar, salt and raisins for a quick, easy salad. One of our favorite ways is roasted with a little olive oil, salt, pepper, so the flavor deepens and thickens. Roast them with turnips, celery root and potatoes for a side dish. They also shine in soup, like a creamy carrot soup or zesty, cumin-scented carrot ginger soup. If you don’t feel like cooking, head to ABC Kitchen for their signature, Roasted Carrot and Avocado Salad with crunchy seeds, sour cream and citrus. (It’s to-die-for.) If you’re on the Upper West Side, stop by Jacob’s Pickles and get the Sweet & Spicy Carrots. Mercer Kitchen’s got a great Roast Chicken with carrots, french beans and mashed potatoes. And when in Brooklyn, head to Applewood for their grilled pork with Sauteed Beet Greens and Carrot Puree. Lest we forget Carrot Cake! And you don’t want to miss the one at Momofuku Milk Bar. It’s got layers of Cinnamon Liquid Cheesecake and a killer Cream Cheese Frosting.
35 E 18th Street Between Broadway and Park Ave S.
501 11th Street, btwn. 7th & 8th Aves.
509 Amsterdam Avenue Between 84th and 85th Street
99 Prince St. at Mercer St.
Momofuku Milk Bar
561 Columbus Ave at 87th St.