Raw carrots make a nutritious snack and play a starring role on a vegetable tray, but you can also cook them in a variety of methods. Many cooking techniques emphasize the natural sugar in the carrots, creating a brown, caramelized outside on the vegetable. The cooked carrots give you new side dish options and work well in various main dishes.
The stir-frying method cooks small pieces of carrot to a tender texture with crispy browned areas, depending on how long you cook them. You can cook the carrots with other vegetables as part of a stir-fry meal, or stir-fry the carrots by themselves and serve as a side dish. If you don't own a wok pan, simply heat oil in a regular skillet. Add carrot slices to the hot skillet and stir them frequently as they cook. Add stir-fry sauce or soy sauce if you want extra flavor.
Using a pan of salted, boiling water is another method of cooking carrots. Baby carrots work well for boiling because they are small in size. You can also cut up larger carrots into coils or chunks. Place the carrot pieces into the water once it is boiling. The carrots should take between five and 10 minutes, depending on the size of the carrots. Check one of the carrots by pulling it from the water and cutting into it with a fork.
Steaming uses hot water, but the carrots don't go directly into the water. Instead, they sit in a steaming basket that is just above the water. As the pan heats, the water creates steam that filters up through the basket to cook the carrots. The steaming method takes between 10 and 20 minutes, depending on the size of the carrot pieces. Check the carrots frequently so they don't overcook and become mushy.
Roasting takes place in the oven and produces crispy, browned carrots with lots of caramelized spots. This method enhances the carrot's sweetness. Use baby carrots, or cut large carrots into thin, 2-inch sections. Toss the carrot pieces with 2 tsp. of olive oil. Season the pieces with your favorite dry spices, such as oregano, cayenne pepper, salt, garlic powder and pepper. Spread the carrots on a baking sheet with a rim so that the carrots are in a single layer. Roast the carrots for about 25 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Flip the carrots two or three times during the roasting so they brown evenly.
Large carrots work on the grill for a smoky, charred finish. Skinny carrots work best because they will cook faster, but you can also cut thicker carrots in half or in quarters to make them smaller. Lightly coat the carrots in olive oil and season as desired. Indirect heating works best for the carrots for the first 15 to 20 minutes. Once the carrots are tender, move them directly over the heat source for two to three minutes to lightly char the vegetables.
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Shelley Frost writes professionally on a full-time basis, specializing in lifestyle, family, parenting and relationship topics. She holds an education degree and has extensive experience working with kids and parents.