There is nothing more glorious than a fresh bunch of deep orange carrots with their rosettes of finely divided, fern-like leaves sprouting from the swollen fleshy taproots. These wonderful vegetables are so underrated and in my view deserve a much higher billing.
However, carrots did not start out so orange. Originating in middle Asia, some historians believe that they were known as far back as Ancient Egypt over 5000 year ago and records dating back to the 10th century in Afghanistan show that the colour of carrots was indeed purple and yellow. It wasn't until the 17th century that Dutch farmers grew the first orange carrots in honour of the House of Orange. (House of Orange - princely dynasty that derived its name from the medieval principality of Orange, in old Provence in southern France. It is the Netherlands nation's royal family)
We are beginning to see more of these exquisite purple and yellow heritage carrots appearing at Farmer's Markets and in some supermarkets.
So to celebrate the end of winter here in Australia I would like to share with you a very simple and delicious way to prepare and serve carrots. They can be eaten warm or cold and make an ideal accompaniment to antipasto.
900g organic carrots
6 tablespoons olive oil
250mls white wine
120mls white wine vinegar
2 sprigs of fresh thyme
6 sage leaves
2 sprigs of flat leaf parsley
2 bay leaves
4 sprigs of fresh mint
4 garlic cloves
sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Chop the carrots into thick long pieces and put them into a large saucepan
Now add all the other ingredients and bring to the boil. Cook uncovered for about 10 minutes so that the carrots are cooked but still retain a bit of crunch.
Lift the carrots out of the pan with a slotted spoon and put them to one side in a bowl.
Boil the liquid rapidly to reduce the liquid. Once the liquid turns a beautiful deep gold colour turn the heat off.
Pour the liquid over the carrots and leave to marinate for 48 hours
Alternatively you can place the carrots into a sterilised preserving jar and keep until you need them.