Carrots - yes ways - three ways


This post first appeared in 2015, and since then, the recipes have gone through a number of developments/iterations/whatever word you'd like to choose. Originally, it was carrots, two ways. Now, I've added a third.

Growing carrots

One of our earlier harvests - around 2104

Our soil is rocky and very clayey. Certain root vegetables grow, but very differently from what one would expect. Short and stubby or a bit twisted, so they're right at home.

However, working the garden the last eight ten or so years (with a break thanks to the drought and other crud), has improved the soil quality: fewer stones helped along with our own compost and locally sourced manure. Of course, crop rotation - a necessity - also helps. Carrots are a crop we can grow all year round - with patience. They are a slow crop. They are also versatile because they are great for eating raw and cooked; hot or cold; in salads and as sides.

Putting up my hand

Let me nail my colours to the mast. Again. I am not a fan of the local traditional carrot salad which is just too sweet, or the salad of finely shredded carrots with pineapple and raisins. They are in the same category as coleslaw - with slightly less vehemence.

As happens when there are two of you, and a crop is ready to harvest, the choice of accompaniments for meals becomes somewhat restricted. We go through patches of wonderful (and ongoing) crops of carrots, but there is a limit to the number of carrot sticks one can eat.

But now -

I can get quite creative with carrots and love growing heirloom ones of different colours.

Carrots make great table decor. Especially with my bunnies which often graced the Sunday Supper table.

A word to the wise:

Don't be conned by the lovely colours of heirloom carrots: I thought they'd make my pretty pickle extra pretty. Well, they did, until the colour faded into the pickling brine...overnight!

"No!" to the death boil

I definitely don't do boiled carrots. I had too many of them as a child - boiled to death, they were.

A few years' ago, thanks to celebrity chef, Jamie Oliver, I learned about finishing carrots off in the oven.

I subsequently found the recipe, by which time the practice of parboiling* and finishing off in the oven, had become a Fiona SOP. I have to agree with his sentiment that the practice makes the carrots "meatier"; it certainly does intensify the flavours and it's become my favourite way of preparing carrots - whether they have the full Oliver treatment or not.

  • save and freeze the water you drain off - for gravy or vegetable stock

Photo: Selma

The "pukka" Oliver treatment involves orange, herbs, butter and garlic. Of course. Bung them in a pot with some salted water, bring to the boil for about 10 minutes. Drain and spread on a baking tray with butter (or olive oil), squeeze the orange juice over the carrots, doing the same with the garlic. Now, whack that into a pre-heated oven for about 15 minutes. Serve hot or cold. With extra herbs.

I have also created variations - with or without the oranges and herbs - used my spicy plum jam as a glaze and served them cold with blue cheese on a bed of rocket (arugula).

Rocket and me

Contrary to popular opinion, I'm not overly fond of hot, peppery stuff and for years I really didn't like rocket in anything other as one of the leaves in a green salad. When it was the vogue to have rocket with everything, I was often found to be picking it out of my salad or asking for an alternative. Yes, I can be that customer, and if it can't be done, I'll find an alternative restaurant dish.

Then, a few years ago we visited Babylonstoren and toured the garden. I left with their book which is less about recipes than it is about ingredients and combinations that work.

Among these was beetroot with rocket and goat's cheese (chevin to be precise).-It's become another favourite combination. The sweetness of the beetroot works really well with the pepperiness of the rocket, rounded off with the saltiness of the cheese.

That combination gave me the idea of trying carrot with rocket as I did for this dish - and with the saltiness of blue cheese.


Monster rocket leaf from the garden

I am now a whole lot more adventurous open to recipes that include rocket and am now exceedingly annoyed if anyone tampers with my self-sown rocket plants. Because, theoretically, once you have rocket, you always have rocket. Unless someone frantically weeds it all out. This monster plant survived the last weeding frenzy.

Which brings me back to carrots.

Going back some a few years, I built a stash of carrot recipes, many of which I'd rejected or not tried. Because, well, just because. Then, because of Sunday Suppers, and because I keep an eye open for dishes that are vegan and vegetarian-friendly, I have a somewhat different lens.

Among the recipes is one with almonds, olives and cranberries. Yes, you guessed right: with rocket as more than garnish.

I gave it a go. It's a winner.

The best carrot salad(s)

Carrot salad with rocket, almonds and olives

What makes this salad best of all, is its versatility and with various additions or subtractions, it can form a main course for either vegetarians or vegans. What's more, it stores well so one can make it ahead of time.

In summary: roast the carrots, slivered almonds, garlic and salt and pepper. Set them aside and then combine with pitted olives. Serve on a bed of salad (and rocket) leaves dressed with apple cider vinegar and honey, or spicy plum jam. Garnish with more rocket leaves and flowers.

In a jar - better storage and/or for a picnic

Regular readers and followers of my Insta feed know that I have a stall at the Saturday morning market in McGregor. Last winter, I resumed my soup offering (which had ground to a halt because I served the soups at Sunday Suppers). Now the seasons are changing and the weather's warmer, soup's not quite so popular and instead of ditching the jar idea, I am now offer either a seasonal soup, salad or meal in a jar. This wasn't the first - that was the Butternut and Lentil salad that everyone raves about.

Remember I said that this salad stores well?

It really does. It also looks very pretty in jars. I sold a few at the market and those I didn't, I stored in the fridge. As a test. The rocket leaves stayed crisp, for a full seven days. That makes it a great market/street food product and a winner for the busy person who plans and prepares ahead.

The full, recipes are available to download here.

Oh, and if you do download the recipes, buy me a coffee. Or better yet, a glass of wine....?

Post script:

The spicy plum jam to which I refer, is a condiment I've been making for a number of years. I did share the recipe, and that post, like so many others, went the way of an erstwhile website host. A new post - with the now tried and trusted recipe - will appear during (or after) plum season. I shall be making more.

Until next time, be well
The Sandbag House
McGregor, South Africa

Photo: Selma
Post script
If this post might seem familiar, it's because I'm doing two things:

  • re-vamping old recipes. As I do this, I am adding them in a file format that you can download and print. If you download recipes, buy me a coffee. Or better yet, a glass of wine....?
  • and "re-capturing" nearly two years' worth of posts.
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Posted from my blog with Exxp :


Like you, I'm not fond of boiled carrots but will eat it if cooked with potato and mashed.
I've learned something here, used to really enjoy Jamie Oliver but missed the tip about parboiling carrots before roasting as I enjoy them roasted, but it of course takes much longer than the other veggies! Why did I not think of that! And to use them as table decor is just brilliant!
We tried growing carrots, but gave up as they were so deformed, short and stubby, so we got better compost but the monkeys would get to them every so often, so we gave up!
Your three-ways carrots look really good!
Lovely 🥕 post Fiona!


Our childhood vegetable traumas, hey? 😁 I've learned not to worry about the shapes. Instead of monkeys, we have the guineafowl that scratch up the beds before and after they come's a never ending battle! lol

Glad you enjoyed, thank you!


I've tried so hard to grow carrots, they always seem to come out deformed. Reading your post @fionasfavourites, I've picked up a few good tips, thanks for sharing. Go well.


I am glad you found this useful! You know,I don't mind the deformed carrots from the garden because they taste so good. Do give them another go, and make sure the bed is turned over to at least the depth of the spade or the fork. A little deeper if you can so that the soil is looser.


I've always been a fan of any meals and baked goods with carrots😍🥕


I love reading about what people grow and the from soil to table journey, so much love that goes into the whole process. Thank you for taking us on a lovely carroty journey!