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New Season Carrots: The Cream of the Crop - Carrot Recipes

PUBLISHED: 17:03 04 April 2011 | UPDATED: 22:01 21 February 2013

New Season Carrots: The Cream of the Crop - Carrot Recipes

New Season Carrots: The Cream of the Crop - Carrot Recipes

June and July are two of the busiest months for British carrot farmers. This is when they literally work day and night to ensure new season carrots reach our tables in perfect condition...

Carrots are in season in the UK for almost the entire year, normally with a short gap in supply during May. You can get new season carrots from the beginning of June through to the end of August and they are mostly grown on the light fertile soils and in the relatively mild climates of Suffolk, Cambridgeshire and Norfolk.

The health benefits of carrots have been recognised for centuries and in World War II, the Ministry of Food even developed a cartoon character called Dr Carrot to educate the population about eating healthily during rationing. He carried a bag full of Vitamin A to communicate the importance of this vitamin to everyday health. Today the British Carrot Growers Association is working with TVs Dr Christian Jessen to revisit Dr Carrots advice and who recommends you eat your carrots. Heres why.

Carrots are packed with the powerful antioxidant beta-carotene, which is converted into vitamin A in the body. In fact, of all fruit and vegetables, carrots are actually the best source of beta-carotene - an 80g serving contains more than twice the recommended daily amount (RDA) needed by adults. The antioxidant action of beta-carotene helps to act against age-accelerating free radicals so will ensure a healthy glow to your skin. In addition, the Vitamin A in carrots is essential for the proper functioning of the immune system through keeping the skin and cells that line the airways, digestive tract and urinary tract healthy. This means they act as barriers and form the bodys first line of defence against infection. In addition, research shows that more carotenoids (such as beta-carotene) are absorbed when a salad is eaten with a full-fat dressing drizzled over it than without, so you neednt feel too guilty about dipping your carrots in a dollop of mayonnaise!1.

As well as being good for your health, buying British carrots is good for the environment. Carrots were given a carbon rating of just 45g of carbon per 1kg of carrots by Farmers Weekly2, compared to 80g for onions, 240g for potatoes and 15,000g for beef. But aside from doing your bit to help in the battle to reduce climate change and support British farmers and the economy, buying seasonal British produce just makes good sense if you want fresh, great tasting, reasonably priced food.

To celebrate the start of the British season, the British Carrot Growers Association has developed the following three delicious new recipes. For more recipes and carrot facts,

Tarragon Baked Chicken and Carrots
Preparation: 10mins Cooking: 25-30mins Serves 4 Price per portion: 2.34

Per serving: 341 calories, 20.1g fat, 8.5g saturates, 6.1g sugars, 0.85g salt

1 (400g) bunch of new season carrots with tops
2 tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, chopped
zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 (20g) pack fresh tarragon, trimmed and chopped
50g butter, softened
4 skin on chicken breast fillets
salt and freshly ground black pepper

  1. Preheat the oven to 190C/Fan 170C/400F/Gas Mark 5. Scrub the carrots clean and trim away the tops, place them in a large roasting tin. Add the oil, garlic, the lemon juice, a third of the tarragon and plenty of salt and ground black pepper, then toss well to mix.

  2. Mix the butter with the lemon zest, remaining tarragon and plenty of ground black pepper. Divide the butter into four, then use your fingers to push each quarter under the chicken skin. Lay the chicken breasts skin side up on top of the carrots. Bake for 25-30mins, until the carrots are lightly charred and the chicken golden and tender. Serve with green vegetables and new potatoes.

Carrot and Beetroot Salad

This easy peasey salad is so colourful and crunchy and whats more its bursting with carotenoids, great for summer skin, with an anti-oxidant effect. Serve it at barbecues with fish or grilled meats.

Preparation: 10mins Cooking: none Serves 4 Price per portion: 74p

Per serving: 121 calories, 6.2g fat, 0.8g saturates, 12.8g sugars, 0.21g salt

350g/12oz new season carrots, trimmed
350g/12oz raw beetroot, peeled and trimmed
2 shallots, peeled and finely chopped
2 tsp cumin seeds
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp sherry or red wine vinegar
1 small bunch flat parsley, roughly chopped

  1. Peel and trim the carrots and beetroot, then coarsely grate both on a grater wear rubber gloves if you dont want pink hands! Alternatively, use a food processor fitted with a grating plat. Place the grated vegetables in a bowl, add the shallots.

  2. Heat the cumin seeds in small pan until they are hot and smell pungent. Remove from the heat and scatter over the vegetables. Add the olive oil, vinegar and parsley, then toss well. Leave to marinate for at least 15mins before serving.

24 Carrot Gold Roasted Carrot, Spinach and Feta Salad

Prep: 10 mins Cook: 25 mins Serves 4 Price per portion: 79p

Per serving: 280 calories, 20.4g fat, 5.6g saturates, 0.84g salt

Counts as 2 of your 5-a-day and contains over a third of your RDA of vitamin C

450g/1lb new season carrots, cut into chunks

1 red onion, cut into wedges

1 red pepper, deseeded and cut into wedges

60ml/4tbsp olive oil

2 whole cloves garlic

45ml/3tbsp pumpkin seeds

5ml/1tsp cumin seeds

juice half a lemon

1 tsp runny honey

salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 (100g) bag baby spinach leaves

100g/4oz feta cheese crumbled

30ml/2tbsp chopped fresh mint leaves

  1. Preheat the oven to 220C/Fan 200C/Gas Mark 7. Place the carrots, onion, pepper and half the oil in a large roasting tin. Season well. Toss together until everything is coated in oil. Roast for 15 mins. Stir in the seeds and garlic and roast for a further 10 mins until the carrots are just tender but still have a bit of bite.

  2. Remove the vegetables from the oven and remove the garlic cloves. On a chopping board, slip the garlic from the papery skin and using the blade of a knife work it to a smooth paste. Put the garlic paste in a small bowl with the remaining oil, lemon juice and honey and whisk together with a fork. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

  3. Empty the spinach leaves into a large serving bowl, then add the roasted vegetables, feta cheese, chopped mint and pour over the dressing. Toss lightly together until mixed.

June and July are two of the busiest months for British carrot farmers. This is when they literally work day and night to ensure new season carrots reach our tables in perfect condition. To prevent the tender skin of these delicately flavoured carrots being damaged by the sun, the farmers harvest them at midnight. They are plucked from the ground by their foliage to stop the fragile roots from being harmed using a harvesting machine, the pitch black field lit only by its headlights. The young carrots are then packed and on shelf within 24 hours of harvest, making them one of the freshest products you can buy.

New season carrots are much prized for their fresh, sweet, aromatic flavour, and taste fantastic cooked very simply and served with butter. They contrast with older carrots which have a more pronounced flavour, and with the winter crop which has a stronger flavour still making it perfect for stews and soups. New season carrots should not be peeled - there is so much flavour packed into their skins - they should just be steamed or boiled gently for between three and five minutes (depending how crunchy you like them) and watched to see their bright orange colour intensify as they cook. Their delicate flavour can be complimented with a little butter and orange zest, or tarragon and thyme. Theyre also delicious simply eaten raw.

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