Carrot lovers rejoice!

Today, we celebrate one of the healthiest vegetables … the carrot. So, we’ve asked some of the graduates from Capsicum Culinary Studio for their favourite carrot recipes you can whip up to honour this ancient veggie.

Charmaine Lehabe’s Chilli Carrot Soup

You’ll need: 1 Tbsp butter; 1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil; 1 medium onion, chopped; 1 stalk celery, chopped; 2 cloves garlic, chopped; 1 tsp chopped fresh thyme or parsley; 5 cups chopped carrots; 2 cups water; 4 cups chicken or vegetable stock (liquid); ½ cup cream (optional); ½ teaspoon salt; 2 green chillis; freshly ground pepper to taste.

How to: Heat butter and oil in a pan over medium heat until the butter melts. Add onion and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 4 to 6 minutes. Add garlic and thyme (or parsley) and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 10 seconds. Stir in carrots. Add water and broth and bring to a lively simmer over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer gently until very tender, about 25 minutes. Puree the soup in batches in a blender until smooth (use caution when pureeing hot liquids.) Stir in the cream (if using) and salt and pepper. Garnish with chopped parsley and serve with crusty bread.

Franco Buys’s Glazed Carrots

You’ll need: 1kg rainbow carrots; 2 Tbsp vegetable oil; 4 Tbsp butter; 2 whole garlic cloves; 2 Tbsp honey; 5g fresh thyme; 5g fresh sage.

How to: Rinse the carrots under cold water to remove any soil. Place the unpeeled carrots into a pot of boiling salted water and blanch for 2 minutes. Remove from water and onto a separate dish and season with salt and pepper. Heat a pan to high and first add the oil, then the butter, garlic, sage and thyme. Add your carrots and toss them in the pan until they start to colour slightly. Lower the heat to medium, add the honey and let the carrots glaze and bubble for about a minute or two. Check for seasoning. These carrots can be served alongside your favourite main or just as is.

Hendrik Pretorius’s Carrot Muffins

Makes 12 large muffins

You’ll need: 520g flour; 150ml oil; 320g sugar; 250ml yoghurt; 250ml milk; 5ml bicarbonate of soda; 20ml baking powder; 2 large egg; 100g carrots, finely grated; 4 tsp cinnamon powder; 130g walnuts; 4 tsp vanilla essence; 5ml ginger powder.

How to: Preheat the oven to 180ºC and place a rack in the centre of the oven. Grease a 12 cup muffin tray with butter or baking spray. (If you use muffin papers spray them on the inside so the muffins don’t stick.) In a medium bowl whisk together the oil, yoghurt, milk, eggs and vanilla extract. In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, salt, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder, cinnamon powder and ginger powder. Make a well in the flour mixture and pour the wet mixture into the centre of the dry mixture and fold together until the ingredients are well combined. Add the grated carrots and mix thoroughly. Using a spoon, scoop the mixture into the muffin cups until each cup is about ¾ full. Bake for 30-35 minutes, rotating the muffin tray halfway through the baking time until the muffins are golden brown. (Insert a skewer and if it comes out clean the muffins are done.) Remove the muffin pan from the oven and let the muffins cool in the pan before serving.

Hendrik’s notes: The muffins are best served freshly baked but they can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to two days. They can be refreshed in the oven at 150ºC for 5 minutes.

Harris Hlungwani’s Carrot Meringue Pie

You’ll need: For the carrot puree – 500g peeled carrots, ends removed; 4 Tbsp unsalted butter; 1 Tbsp white granulated sugar; 2 Tbsp heavy cream; 1 pinch of salt; 50g of agar-agar (use gelatin if agar-agar unavailable) For the crust: 300g tennis biscuits; 125ml melted butter For the Swiss meringue: 6 extra-large egg whites; 375g white sugar.

How to: For the pie crust: Preheat the oven to 180°C. Combine the butter and biscuits in a food processor and blend until fine. Transfer to a 23cm pie dish and press into an even, thin layer, including up the sides of the dish and bake for 10 minutes.

For the carrot puree: Cut the peeled carrots into equal small sizes and boil in a medium saucepan until soft. Drain and then add the carrots, butter, sugar, salt and heavy cream into an electric blender and blend on medium until smooth. Transfer to a saucepan and simmer. Add the agar-agar. Add the mixture to the pie crust, cover with clingfilm and leave to cool in the fridge.

For the Swiss meringue: Combine the egg whites and sugar in a large metal or glass bowl and set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Whisk the mixture until the sugar has dissolved. Transfer the bowl to a stand mixer (or use a hand mixer), and with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Dollop the egg whites onto the chilled pie and decorate to your preference. Caramelise the egg whites with a kitchen blow torch until golden brown and serve immediately.   

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