How to make carrots interesting

Spicy carrot salat

There is always some vegetable that even the most hard-core vegetable lover dislikes. I count myself as a hard-core vegetable lover: I can rant for hours about the secret pleasures of artichokes or the juicy consistency of asparagus. I eat vegetables because they are good-for-you, sure, but mainly I eat them because I want to eat them. I want to cook with them. Whenever I go to the market, I have to stop myself from buying too much. I am a compulsive vegetable shopper, I admit it, and nothing excites me more than a good-looking (and better tasting!) fruit and veggies stall. My vegetable love has always been one of the distinctive tract of my personality: my sister is the one who eats only meat, I am the one who eats only vegs. We are a team, when it comes to eating.

However there are some vegetables I don’t like. Not that I don’t eat them, mind you, but.. I just don’t buy them, or if I do, they linger in my fridge for a while and then die. Boring food, I have no room for you in my kitchen. But I don’t like this attitude of mine. I strongly believe there is something good in every situation, even the most difficult one, and I strongly believe that for every vegetable there must be a recipe I really like. I already knew carrots was one of these vegetables.  I never cared much about it when raw, and I always actively disliked it when cooked. Boiled carrots, puah! In front of boiled carrots I am a stubborn five years old who won’t eat his veggies, no matter what.

A while ago while on holiday in Calabria, I was served a small side dish of freshly harvested and grated carrots, fresh and juicy, served with a generous dressing of strong olive oil and a sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds. I fell in love with it, and from then on I prepare this side regularly. I do find good carrots here. And what about cooked carrots? Thankfully, il signor Ottolenghi helped me again. I trusted his book ‘Plenty‘ enough to try the only all-carrot recipe there. You’ll be glad you did as well, no matter if you like carrots or are tepid about them. Spicy, hot, juicy, tangy, with this recipe you won’t stop after a few bites, bored to death, I promise. Ottolenghi invites you to play around with the spices. I followed his quite faithfully, adjusting the quantities to my taste. If you need to convert between whole and ground spices, Claire recently experimented on this one, and I found it very useful.

Spicy Moroccan carrot salad

Adapted from Plenty

Ingredients: (makes a generous side for two)

500 gr carrots

olive oil

1 small onion

2 thai red chillies

1 crushed garlic clove

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp coriander seeds

1 tsp cumin seeds

2 cloves

1 tsp sweet paprika

1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

1/2 tablespoon chopped preserved lemon skin

salt and pepper

3 tablespoon chopped coriander

optional: some thick yogurt, to serve


Wash and peel the carrots. Cut them into regular shaped sticks, about 8 cm long and 2 cm thick. Steam them until they are cooked, but still retain some bite: I used my pressure cooker and steamed them for about 10 minutes.

Chop the onion. Heat about a tablespoon of olive oil in a non stick pan, and saute the onion until translucent and slightly brown. Meanwhile chop the chillies, grate the ginger, and grind coriander, cumin and cloves. Add the carrots to the onion, the garlic, chillies ginger, ground spices, paprika, cinnamon, sugar, white vinegar, preserved lemon skin. Stir well to allow the flavours to mix and take off from the heat. Season generously. When the carrots are room temperature, stir in the coriander. Serve at room temperature, with some yogurt on top if you like. Great in lunch boxes.


9 Comments to “How to make carrots interesting”

  1. These look *so* delicious! Gorgeous photo-the colors are fantastic. I am a huge vegetable person as well. Love the spices in this–I bet the combination of coriander, cumin and cinnamon is wonderful!!! Think I need to pick up a copy of Plenty. Thanks for sharing this one!! Ciao.

  2. This seems a really interesting recipe! I like to liven up carrots with fennel. I love vegetables too but the one I’m just not that keen on is mange tout!

  3. We have similar tastes in vegetables I think. At least, we have the same idea about carrots. This looks definitely non-boring! I’m going to try to make this soon.

  4. A great “rescue” recipe for the Central Asian masterpiece – the carrot!

    I cook a variation on this recipe swapping western chilies for Thai and lemon juice for white wine vinegar and then minus a few ingredients – and Ifind it interesting and delicious.

    Beets are another vegetable that get a bad rep and need “rescue” recipes conceptually like this one.

    Thanks for a nice post and great photo!


  5. I love carrots, so don’t mind eating them in any form. Love the spices added to the carrots.

  6. I have the book and was looking at this recipe a few days ago. I actually like carrots, but would not attempt a “carrot only” dish, so this recipe intrigues me. Soups are a great way to make use of vegetables that have waited patiently for us to notice them in the crisper. It happens to me too 😉

  7. I share a love of vegetables with you and this carrot salad sounds like the kind of salad I would love several times a week! I recently made a salad inspired by a Turkish recipe, which had carrots and parsnips in a labneh sauce and I loved it and it was gone in a matter of hours. There is so much to explore with veggies, the list is endless! Love it!

  8. I am not a vegetarian by any means but I do have an undeniable love of vegetables. Always been more savory so not really into fruit. Always a big problem when walking from the store with 80 lbs of produce! This recipe is perfect for the chicken I am making tonight!

  9. Ottolenghi saves the day! I’ll try this instead of making refrigerator compost like I usually do with my carrots.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: