“Going back to a simpler life is not a step backwards” ~ Yvon Chouinard
The “root to stem” movement is an extension of the “head to tail” movement that popped up not too long ago. The basic idea is that by utilizing all portions of the plant we can eat in a more sustainable way, reducing food waste and increasing food availability. When using the “root to stem” philosophy you try to utilize waste ingredients you would normally throw out. In the case of the carrot – this would mean cooking with the carrot tops!
This week while getting my Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) box, Erin (one of my local farmers) made a comment about cooking carrot tops. At that moment this week’s CSA challenge was born!
Health Benefits of Carrots:
Carrots are full of antioxidants including vitamins A and C. Vitamin A is known for its role in eye health (specifically helping with the mechanism that lets you see well at night) but this fat soluble vitamin also helps you maintain good brain function and have healthy skin. In addition, Vitamin A works with Vitamin C to reduce inflammation in your body which can be a factor in cancer and heart disease incidence. Carrots also have a high fiber content which helps with your digestive system.
Prepping the Carrots: Root to Stem:
So the challenge was to try and prepare the carrot so that we could eat every part of it. As such, I scoured the web and found the most popular way to do this was by roasting the carrot roots and by turning the carrot tops into a carrot top chimichurri sauce. There were several recipes online but I decided to use this one from Love and Lemons as my base – I then made a few tweaks and adjustments from there.
So the carrot roasting part was pretty simple and resulted in DELICIOUS roasted carrots!
While the carrots were roasting, I made the carrot top chimichurri sauce. This is where things got a bit more complicated. So when making chimichurri a lot of the recipe is the addition of different herbs and spices to taste. While I enjoy making recipes like this – because I can be creative – I had never had chimichurri so I wasn’t sure what this Argentinian sauce was supposed to taste like. The chimichurri I made included about 1 1/2 cups of carrot tops, 1/4 cup of fresh basil from my aerogarden, 1/4 cup of cilantro from this week’s CSA, a pinch of dried oregano, 4 garlic cloves, 1/2 tsp of red pepper and lime seasoning, 1/4 cup of red wine vinegar and 1/2 cup of olive oil. I threw everything in the blender and set it to puree to chop/mix up!
When the carrots were done – I topped them with the chimichurri sauce and then it was time to taste!
First of all, both my husband and I agreed the roasted carrots were amazing! Even the small child liked snacking on the roasted carrots. I included a bit more salt than the recipe called for and they tasted kinda like a tender carrot french fry (which is what I told the small child they were).
As for the chimichurri the reviews were mixed. Part of this might have been the modifications I made on the recipe… The chimichurri sauce had a very earthy taste. You could tell it was made of super fresh ingredients but the vinegar and carrot tops made it a bit sour coupled with the rough texture of the ingredients it was an acquired taste. I kinda liked it and thought it seemed like something you would serve at a fancy dinner party whereas my husband was not a fan (although he did eat it!).
Happy planting and eating!
~The Gardening Dietitian