Peter Cottontail will soon be making his rounds. Chocolate eggs may be at the top of our lists, but it’s safe to assume the Easter Bunny’s spring snack of choice must be carrots. We’d be better off munching on the vitamin — and nutrient-packed vegetable, too.
We already know carrots play a major supporting role at the Easter table. We expect to see them there and, we must admit, sometimes they can be a bit boring. They don’t have to be. One way to make them a star side dish this year might be to serve them up as marmalade candied carrots, flavored with brown sugar, toasted pecans and butter. Or, braised carrots with herbs lean toward a more savory flavor. For a light springtime touch, try making the ginger carrot salad recipe below.
Whether raw, steamed, roasted, candied … carrots go with Easter and the bunny we associate with it, chocolate eggs and all. The earliest reference to the storied hare, by the way, dates back to before the 17th century when the Germanic people of Europe introduced the Osterhase — a rabbit who brought gifts to children at Easter time.
History.com explains that when these immigrants settled in America in the 1700s they brought the tradition with them to Pennsylvania. The tradition included children leaving carrots out for the Osterhase. There are other tales of lore about the bunny’s origins, but however we came to adopt him, it adds a touch of charm to a rite of spring and a celebration of renewal.
MARMALADE CANDIED CARROTS
2 pounds fresh baby carrots
2/3 cup orange marmalade
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted
1 teaspoon rum extract
■ In a large saucepan, place steamer basket over 1 inch of water. Place carrots in basket. Bring water to boil. Reduce heat to maintain low boil; steam, covered, 12-15 minutes or until carrots are crisp-tender.
■ Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine marmalade, brown sugar and butter. Cook and stir over medium heat until mixture is thickened and reduced to about 1/2 cup. Stir in pecans and extract.
■ Place carrots in a large bowl. Add marmalade mixtures and toss gently to coat.
(Source: tasteofhome.com, Heather Clemmons)
BRAISED CARROTS WITH FRESH HERBS
Makes 4 servings
1 pound small carrots or carrot logs
1 cup canned beef broth
1 teaspoon honey
1 tablespoon butter or margarine
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped (or use 1 tablespoon dried)
■ Wash, scrub and peel carrots. Cut carrots into logs 2 to 3 inches in length. If using small tapering carrots, cut the tapering end off, then cut the upper portion in half or quarters so that all of the pieces are about the same size in diameter. (If using store-bought carrots, buy carrots with bright green tops, which is an indication of freshness.)
■ In a medium saucepan, bring beef broth to a boil, add carrots, honey, butter and parsley. Cover and simmer for four to five minutes.
■ Remove carrots to a warm plate and reduce liquid to a light glaze by continuing to simmer 15 to 20 minutes longer. Return carrots to pan and toss in the thickened liquid.
CARROT GINGER SALAD
2 cups shredded carrots (about 4 medium carrots)
1/4 cup fine chopped bell pepper
1/4 cup raisins or dried cranberries
1/4 cup unsalted cashews or sunflower seeds
For the dressing:
1/4 cup orange juice (juice from 1/2 orange)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil or olive oil
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder or 1 small clove of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon sugar or honey
■ In a medium bowl, combine carrot, pepper, raisins and cashews.
■ In a small bowl or jar with a tight lid, mix or shake together the dressing ingredients.
■ Add the salad dressing to vegetable mixture and stir to mix.
■ Refrigerate for a few hours to blend flavors. Refrigerate leftovers within 2 hours.