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I have been trying to get to the farmer's market more often lately. Of course the produce is much fresher, and it's also less expensive. I'm always looking for new ways of stretching the food budget. It's nice to have exotic baby lettuce in the refrigerator, especially when it lasts more than a couple of days before it starts to turn.
Another thing I love is that the vendors know their product and they're happy to talk with you. Last week I picked up some very attractive white squash that, had I found it at Wal-Mart, would have gone in a bowl to look pretty for a couple of weeks and then tossed. But my friendly market farmer told me just how to prepare this squash (sorry I didn't catch the name) with onions in a little butter and garlic. The woman from the stall next door piped in that a little bacon grease poured over top would really make the dish.
When I picked up a gorgeous bunch of baby carrots, I was dying to know what to do with the fluffy green tops. However, I was told there wasn't really anything to cook with carrot tops. I didn't believe it so I did some digging. Here's what I found.
Are Carrot Tops Toxic?
Carrot greens are considered mildly toxic plants. However, it's unclear to me if that could be due to their being a possible choking hazard in small children, or to the fact that the wild variety are easily confused with poisonous hemlock and fool's parsley. While we want to be extra careful when it comes to feeding children, I have a hard time believing so many recipes would be out there if true carrot greens made us sick.
According to several forums I visited, many people and animals are enjoying carrot greens. They taste like a strong parsley, and though some complain of bitterness, cooking will temper this.
I'd really love any comments on how you prepare carrot tops!
Here's one recipe to get us started:
Tuscan Carrot Top And Rice Soup
3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 med onion; minced
2 small carrots; diced
1 stalk celery; diced
3 cloves garlic; minced
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
6 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup short grain rice
1 1/2 cups chopped carrot tops
4 tbsp fresh grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese
1. Heat the oil in a large pot. Saute onion, carrots, celery and garlic for 5 minutes over low heat until translucent. Add salt and pepper, and pour in broth. Bring to a boil.
2. Add rice and cook for 15 minutes or until the rice is almost tender. Add the carrot tops and cook for 5 more minutes, mixing well.
3. When rice is tender, pour soup into four bowls. Sprinkle with cheese.
You could also do 2 pounds of cubed potatoes instead of the rice.