Jeremy Fox turns carrots into everything from pasta to crumble
It’s International Carrot Day! Here’s why the award-winning chef and Phaidon author loves this versatile vegetable
You may well like carrots. However, chances are you haven’t quite found quite as many uses as the US chef and Phaidon author, Jeremy Fox.
Fox – as his surname name sort of suggests – isn’t a complete vegetarian. However, he has deep love of and appreciation for vegetables in general, and the carrot in particular.
“The carrot is an extremely versatile vegetable,” he writes in his book, On Vegetables. “You can eat it raw, juice it for pasta dough, make a pesto out of the tops, even dehydrate the pulp and mix it into a crumble.”
Pesto? Crumble? Well, by "crumble" the chef means a breadcrumb topping, not sweet pie - as the term is more commonly used in an English kitchen. Nevertheless, Fox still finds a wide variety of uses for the root crop, from complcated recipes to simple preparation methods such as roasting.
“If you are roasting them and don’t peel them, they form a really nice skin, almost like a meat skin on a roasted animal,” he says. “Hell, if you’ve got a really big one, you can even present it to dinner guests before carving it up.”
If you would like to treat your guests to such an unusual repast, make sure you get a good one. “Carrots should not be rubbery,” Fox advises. “If they are—move along. Personally, I look for the weirdly shaped carrots; I call those misfit carrots. I always considered myself a misfit, and not like everyone else. So when I see carrots that most people are picking over because they aren’t what they thought carrots should be, those are the ones I scoop up. I like giving misfits a chance.”
Once you’ve found the carrot for you, ensure store it correctly. “Carrots can be washed and dried before being stored. Remove the greens and store them separately. Carrots can be stored loose in a bag; if they are left totally uncovered in the refrigerator they will get a bit rubbery. Their crispness is one of their best attributes.”
Finally, prepare it for roasting. “I like oven-roasting carrots rather than pan-roasting on the stovetop, as I find they cook more evenly. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C/Gas 4). If the carrots have their greens still attached, trim them off for another use (like salsa verde, or pesto), but keep about an inch of the stem still attached. Wash your carrots thoroughly, but don’t peel them. Using the tip of your bird’s beak knife, scrape off any dirt that is hidden in the little circular indentation at the stem. Dry the carrots and toss them with just enough olive oil to coat. Season with salt and spread them evenly on a baking sheet or ovenproof sauté pan (depending on quantity), making sure that they aren’t stacked or overcrowded.
"Roast the carrots, rotating the pan about halfway through, until they take on a good bit of color. Depending on the size of the carrots, this could take anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes. I like it when they’ve just started to wrinkle and caramelize. A soft carrot doesn’t bother me. Once cooked, season to taste with salt.”
For many dishes, and plenty more tasty insight, order a copy of On Vegetables here.