This humble vegie is rich in vitamin A, fibre and antioxidants. It’s also incredibly versatile, says Andrea Sophocleous.
1. Spiced carrot salad
Combine 8 sliced, steamed carrots with 1 tablespoon each finely chopped fresh coriander, parsley and mint. In a small bowl, combine 1/4 teaspoon dried chilli flakes, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice, 1 tablespoon honey and 1 teaspoon each sweet paprika, cumin and ground coriander. Drizzle dressing over salad and toss to combine.
2. Carrot soup
Sauté 6 chopped carrots, 1 thinly sliced leek and 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger until vegies soften. Add 2 cups reduced-salt stock, cover and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and cool slightly. Transfer mixture to food processor and purée. Garnish with a dollop of low-fat yoghurt.
3. Carrot and mango salsa
Perfect with chicken or fish! Combine 2 tablespoons lime juice, 1 tablespoon sugar, 1 teaspoon ground cumin, 1 finely diced carrot, 1 diced mango, 1 diced apricot, 1/2 diced red capsicum and 1/2 sliced red onion. Add 1 finely chopped chilli if you like it a bit spicier.
4. Turkish carrot dip
Grate 6 medium carrots and sauté until softened. Set aside to cool. Grate a garlic clove into 200g low-fat Greek yoghurt, then stir in carrot mixture. Sprinkle with paprika and chopped parsley before serving.
5. Simple healthy side
Steam 4 large sliced carrots. Top with a small splash of olive oil and toasted slivered almonds, then season with black pepper. Serve with grilled fish or lamb.
6. Carrot pancakes
Combine 2 1/2 cups grated carrot (squeeze out any liquid), ½ cup sliced green onions and 1 teaspoon each minced garlic and ginger. In a separate bowl, mix together 3 tablespoons self-raising wholemeal flour and 2 eggs. Stir through carrot mixture. Spray a large frying pan with oil and place over medium heat. Pour 1/4 cup-fuls of mixture and cook for 4 minutes each side, or until cooked through. Serve with a store-bought Asian dipping sauce.
7. Carrot ginger juice
In a blender, combine 1/2 cup carrot juice (if you have a juicer, juice about 3 carrots) with 1/2 cup apple juice, 1/2 teaspoon grated ginger, 1 teaspoon lemon juice, 1 frozen banana and a handful of ice cubes. Blend until smooth.
8. Carrot and chickpea salad
Combine grated carrot with rinsed chickpeas, finely chopped capsicum, diced celery, bean sprouts and fresh coriander leaves. In a small bowl, combine 1 teaspoon sesame oil, 1/4 cup lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon grated ginger, 1 crushed garlic clove and 1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds. Pour over salad and toss to combine.
9. Carrot chips
For a healthy alternative to packaged crisps, thinly slice carrots with a mandolin or sharp knife. Lightly spray with oil and bake at 200°C for about 35 minutes. Sprinkle with ground cumin or nutmeg before serving.
10. Sweet and nutty
Dried figs add sweet flavour to this delicious salad. Toss together 5 large grated carrots with 1/2 cup chopped dried figs, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1/2 cup chopped fresh mint, 30g unsalted shelled pistachios, 65g crumbled low-fat feta and 2 tablespoons lemon juice.