Carrots and their beautiful greens are looking spectacular in the farmers market right now. Too often the greens are cut off and discarded but don’t make this mistake, especially now. Fresh carrot greens should always be a keeper but fall carrot greens in particular are tender and bright with a bracing, slightly citrusy flavor.
Chile Roasted Carrots with a Carrot Green Salsa makes great use of your entire bunch of autumn carrots and is easy to prepare for a quick weeknight dinner.
One of the finer pleasures of enjoying farmers market fare is becoming re-acquainted with the true flavor of vegetables, particularly carrots. Most vegetables in the grocery produce aisle travel great distances, often for weeks (sadly sometimes months), before they ever make it to your table. During this time, the vegetables surrender almost all of their distinct flavor and become quite bland.
Fresh, local carrots with their full, ferny green tops still attached indicate that the carrots were picked recently. They will have a distinct, slightly grassy taste that mellows and sweetens when cooked.
Like most vegetables, carrots taste marvelous with a little caramelization in a hot oven. Tossed in your favorite chile powder blend and roasted in a 400-degree oven, the carrots emerge pungent and burnished. We greedily pile them on top of of corn tortillas.
Fresh carrot top greens resemble fresh parsley in texture and are similar in flavor, although to me, carrot greens have an essence of orange. Regardless, I use parsley and carrot tops interchangeably in most recipes this time of year, except maybe an Italian marinara sauce (which would still be excellent with the carrots).
Using a pair of kitchen shears, we trim off the tender frills and discard only the tough stems. We then rinse the frills as we would lettuce greens, give them a whirl in a salad spinner and wrap in a paper towel to place in a plastic bag for use throughout the week.
Tonight, we use a large handful of carrot greens to make a quick salsa adding a little fresh hot pepper, red onion, which also are very fresh in the farmers market this week, as well a generous squeeze of lime. Sometimes we blitz it in a blender into a smooth sauce but other times we chop it all with a knife to create a textured chunky salsa. It is only a matter of preference.
We splash the salsa over our pile of burnished carrots then top with a crumble of fresh goat cheese we were able to snag during a quick visit to Georges Mill Artisan Cheese this weekend.
Chile Roasted Carrot Tacos with a Carrot Green Salsa ensures nothing is wasted and celebrates the glorious carrot in its entirely at the peak of its season, making this one of our favorite farmers market meals this season.
- One large bunch of carrots with their fresh greens attached (about 5-7 medium carrots), rinsed and peeled.
- 1½ tender carrot greens
- 2-3 Tablespoons olive oil
- 2-3 Tablespoons chile powder
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- ½ jalapeno, or poblano pepper, chopped
- 1 lime
- ½ small red onion, chopped
- 3 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1 can black beans
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 6-7 corn tortillas
- Crumbled goat cheese, feta, queso fresco, or shredded cheddar to taste
- 2-3 radishes, thinly sliced (optional)
- Using a pair of kitchen shears, trim the soft frilly fronds of the carrot greens and discard the tough center stems. Rinse, and dry with paper towels. Set aside 1½ cups greens for this recipe and save the paper-wrapped greens in a plastic bag for use throughout the week.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Chop carrots into ½-inch pieces and toss with enough olive oil then chile powder and salt to coat lightly. Spread out in an even layer on a large sheet pan and roast until tender and beginning to brown, about 12-15 minutes.
- For a smooth salsa, place the carrot greens, pepper, onion, the juice of the lime into a blender and blend until well minced. Add olive oil and give a final blitz until the ingredients blend into a sauce.
- For a chunky salsa, hand chop and finely mince the carrot greens, pepper and onion, toss with the juice of the lime and mix well. Add the olive oil and stir well to combine.
- Empty the contents of the can into a small saucepan and add the cumin. Heat over medium high until beans are hot. Drain and discard the liquid
- Heat the corn tortillas on a very hot cast iron pan (or in a toaster oven...carefully watched) until pliable and lightly browned. Top a tortilla with a spoonful of black beans, then carrots and top with the salsa and a crumble of cheese. Sprinkle with radishes and additional carrot fronds, if desired.