Gluten-Free Ingredient Crush: Carrots

Carrots ready to roast

I love carrots. There I said it. I. Love. Carrots. I love raw carrots. I love raw carrots with hummus (a bit too much, if you want my opinion). I love cooked carrots. I love carrot puree. I love carrot soup and (gluten-free) carrot cake. More on that below.

I also love carrot salads. I mean, I love carrots in salads, but I also love salads that feature carrots as the main ingredient. Another thing we’ll get to below.

As you can see, carrots are a serious ingredient crush for me. They are, of course, completely gluten free. They’re also healthy. Low calorie, low carbohydrate, loads of vitamin A (all the better to see you with!), a bit of calcium, some vitamin C, some B-6, and even potassium.

Carrots come from the same family as fennel, parsley (also a fave!), parsnips, anise, cumin, and dill. Hmm, I’m seeing that my love of carrots is much broader and deeper than previously suspected.

Best of all, carrots can be prepared anywhere you like on the sweet to savory scale. Or a mix of the two: my favorite quick carrot side dish features roasted carrots with a honey-miso glaze. It’s the kind of side that impresses guests despite being super-simple and super-fast.

Not totally sold on carrots? Check out the various recipe ideas below for inspiration. And this week’s gluten-free meal includes a salad built around carrots.

  • Basic Carrot Slaw. This slaw is one of my go-to recipes. I always have carrots in the fridge, so it’s easy to throw together when I’m feeling stumped for a side dish (or it’s too hot to cook veggies, which happens a lot where I live). The best part of this recipe is the number of ways it can be customized. The dressing takes the slaw in whatever direction you want to go!
  • Carrot Tabbouleh. Traditionally, tabbouleh is made with bulgur wheat. Since that’s not a great gluten-free option, I love the idea of using raw carrots instead. This recipe is perfect with kebabs and a cucumber salad. Or when you need an unexpected side dish to bring to a party….
  • Carrot Lox. I haven’t tried this recipe yet — I’m saving it for my book club since I think they’d love it. I’ll skip the bagels, opting instead for gluten-free crackers or Glutino bagel chips. Bring on the cream cheese and capers for me as well!
  • Moroccan Carrots with Aleppo Pepper and Mint. I will confess that I substituted carrots in this recipe, cutting a rainbow of carrots into smaller pieces. The mint adds a huge flavor punch, and if you can’t find Aleppo pepper — which is both tasty and pretty — red pepper flakes used judiciously work just fine.
  • Carrot Ribbons with Rosemary Butter. Rosemary is something incredibly plentiful in my house. Large bushes line the steps leading to the garden, and I’m always cutting a branch here or there (or just rubbing up agains the bushes). Carrot ribbons make a pretty salad, rosemary adds herby flavor and scent. You can keep the carrots raw or briefly steam them — your call!
  • Pressure Cooker Caramelized Carrot Soup. I confess that I love cooking vegetables in my pressure cooker (or, this recipe is great for butternut squash or sweet potatoes as well). The carrot juice adds a lot of flavor, but I’ve done this recipe with just water as well. The caramelized carrots already have a ton of flavor, so if you add seasonings, be judicious (and consider a bit of cumin!).
  • Roasted Carrot Noodles with Herb Dressing. When life gives you a spiralizer…seriously, I love the convenience of spiralized veggies. Roasting them adds a bit of crispiness (you can also do a quick pan fry). This recipe also works with sweet potato noodles.
  • Coconut Flour Carrot Cake. I made this amazingly moist (read: a bit gooey, so plan on using a fork or spoon when eating) gluten-free carrot cake for a dinner party, and the compliments were very gratifying. I’d never cooked with coconut flour before, so was especially pleased by the results. I took leftovers to the office, and they were, um, gone before most people had hit the mid-morning coffee break. This recipes makes A Lot of Cake, so scale back as necessary.

What is your favorite way to serve carrots?

Tip of the Week

I think it’s a waste of money to buy baby carrots, which are often adult carrots peeled down. You don’t need cute little carrots since they are easy to cut into bite-sized pieces. If you buy whole carrots, do make sure to cut the tops off before storing in the refrigerator — the tops will pull moisture from the carrots, drying them out.

Gluten-Free Meal of the Week

I love traveling, but it doesn’t take long before restaurant fatigue sets in — even when I’m in a place that is gluten-free heaven. While I prefer the convenience of hotels, what with someone making the bed and cleaning up every day, the husband and I are looking at renting condos or apartments more often.

Either way, when I come home, the first place I head is my kitchen. Since I’ve usually cleared the fridge before vacation, I need to mix and match my meals. The kebabs come from a local Armenian butcher, who also supplies amazing hummus and a red pepper sauce that makes me cry with joy. I make the carrot slaw while the meat is on the grill, and once we sit down to eat, all life is good.

Then comes the fun part: planning our next trip!

  • Chicken Kebabs
  • Carrot Slaw
  • Cucumber or Green Salad
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