Saturday, November 8, 2014


Look at these beauties! Purple carrots.
Carrots were not always orange in color. A vegetable from central Asia, carrots originally were purple-skinned. The Arabs brought the vegetable to Spain and, supposedly, the Dutch developed the orange cultivar in the 17th century.

Now the purple ones are being grown again in some areas of Spain. In Málaga province, the village of Cuevas Bajas is commercializing zanahorias moradas, purple carrots. I had seen them on TV, on my favorite chef program (Cómetelo, on Canal Sur). Then, the other day, there were purple carrots at my local market! Irresistible.

Purple carrots, washed but not peeled.
As you can see in the picture, the carrots are a dull purple color. Peeled, they reveal a bright violet color beneath the skin. Sliced, they show pale yellow flesh with a sunburst of purple in the centers. Wow.

Cut in half, the carrots reveal a purple rim, yellow centers.
Peeled, the carrots are a vibrant violet color.
The raw carrots are gorgeous in a salad. Cooked, the purple outer rings darken and somewhat stain the yellow interiors. Still interesting, but not as stunning as raw.

Sliced carrots and radishes with slivers of cheese in a salad.
The taste? The purple carrots are sweet and earthy, like any good carrot, but more so. Unlike regular carrots, the purple ones contain a powerful antioxidant, anthocyanin, also present in blueberries, black raspberries and other blue and purple fruits.

Cooked, the purple carrots lose some of the vibrant color, but taste wonderful

Carrots with Raisins and Pine Nuts
Zanahorias con Pasas y Piñones

Serve these carrots hot or cold.

Serves 4 to 6.

1 pound purple carrots, peeled and sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped onion
1 tablespoon pine nuts
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon raisins
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint leaves or parsley

Cook the carrots in boiling salted water until just tender, about 5 minutes. Drain and refresh in cold water. Drain.

In a small saucepan heat the oil and sauté the onion for 2 minutes. Add the pine nuts and garlic and sauté 2 minutes more. Add the carrots and raisins and sauté until the carrots are heated through. Stir in the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and add the mint leaves or parsley.

Cooked purple carrots with pine nuts, raisins, garlic, onion and sprigs of mint.

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