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Let carrots brighten your menu

When my son was in third grade, he read a story called “Bunnicula: A Rabbit-Tale of Mystery,” written by James Howe. This was the story of a, wait for it, vampire rabbit, that drained all the juice/color out of the carrots he ate to the chagrin (and concern) of the other characters in the story.

To say my son was entranced by the concept goes without saying and he spent a few memorable months reading the series of books trying to emulate his new anti-hero. From the first page of that book he insisted that carrots were always on our menu.

The carrots you buy today are not the same kind that were originally cultivated. Those were either white or purple in color. In the early to mid-1900s science and hybridization created the bright orange variety we all know.

Luckily, colored carrots are being brought back to the market place by natural, organic and gourmet farms. You can find red, yellow, white and purple carrots right beside the orange ones. Of course, they’re a little more expensive, but with the subtle variations in flavor, you’ll find them excellent when you add them to any carrot dish you want to make.

The following recipes are just a bit different from your typical carrot cake and glazed carrots recipes and encourage you to buy a big bag of carrots the next time you’re at the grocery and try them all.

Roasted Maple Carrots

2 pounds carrots, peeled and cut on the diagonal into same size pieces

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/4 cup maple syrup

Salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Pour the oil into a cookie sheet with sides. Put it in the oven for 2 minutes then place the carrots in it. Stir to coat the carrots. Drizzle the maple syrup, over the top and mix to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Roast for 15 to 20 minutes; stir once, then serve immediately. Serves 8.

Carrot and Zucchini Fritters

1 large zucchini, grated

8 medium carrots, grated

6 green onions, chopped

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1/2 bunch fresh parsley

Your favorite pancake batter recipe (I use the one on the Bisquick box but use a 1/4 less liquid than called for)

Salt and pepper

Olive oil to fry

Butter or sour cream for topping (optional)

In a bowl combine the zucchini, carrots, green onions, garlic and parsley. Mix to combine. Make your pancake batter (don’t forget to omit 1/4 cup of the liquid from the original recipe). Mix together the vegetables and batter. Season with salt and pepper.

Heat a skillet and add a little olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Use a 1/3 measuring cup to scoop the batter onto the heated skillet. Cook 3 minutes then flip it over and cook 2 to 3 minutes more. The fritter should be golden on each side. Place the fritter on a paper towel or a cooling rack for a minute or two. Serve immediately. Makes 8 to 12 depending on the size.

Carrot and Beef Rice Bowl

2 cups raw rice, cooked according to the package directions

1 pound beef (if using steak, cut it into very thin slices across the grain)

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 teaspoons sesame oil

1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 1/2 tablespoons cooking oil

1/2 onion, diced

2 large carrots, julienned

1 small zucchini, diced

2 handfuls of spinach leaves

1 tablespoon roasted sesame seeds

In a large bowl, combine the soy sauce, sesame oil, ginger, garlic and brown sugar. Add the beef and toss to coat. Let marinate for 1/2 hour.

Heat a large saute pan or wok with the sesame oil. Add the onions and sauté for 1 minute. Add the beef and stir constantly while it cooks. Sauté for 2 to 3 minutes until just barely pink. Add the carrots, zucchini and toss. Cook for 1 minute. Toss in the spinach and cook for an additional minute. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Serve with rice. Serves 4.

– Modified from About.com – Modified from Steamykitchen.com Slice of Life is a food column that offers recipes, cooking advice and information on new food products. It appears Sundays. If you have a question about cooking or a food item, contact Eileen Goltz at ztlog@frontier.net or write The Journal Gazette, 600 W. Main St., Fort Wayne, IN 46802.

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