Even young palates won’t protest the carrot’s sweet, crunchy bite. While the bright orange supermarket variety claims mass popularity, heirloom carrots come in a rainbow of colors, from white to yellow to purple, as well as squat, irregular shapes. This versatile vegetable can go far beyond the ubiquitous crudité platter; we like them grated raw with honey and spices for a punchy salad, roasted with orange zest, and baked into sweet cakes and breads. Though not widely used, the leaves of the plant are edible and have a flavor similar to curly parsley; use them to garnish carrot dishes, toss into salads, or throw into soup stock to add earthy pungency.
HOW TO BUY
Look for carrots that are smooth, firm, and crisp with deep color—which is an indicator of flavor—and avoid any with soft spots, discoloration, or sprouts from the root itself. We like to buy carrots with the greens still attached, to use in soups, salads, and other dishes.
HOW TO STORE
Remove the leaves before storing, which will draw moisture from the root; store them separately in a perforated plastic bag in the vegetable crisper. Store the carrots in a perforated plastic bag in the crisper drawer, and avoid storing next to ethylene gas-releasing fruits like apples, apricots, melons, and figs.
HOW TO PREPARE
Wash the carrots thoroughly with cold water, using a vegetable brush or your fingertips to get any grit off the surface. Peeling is optional—we tend to only do this with older, thick carrots. To prepare the stems, rinse in cold water and spin or pat dry with clean kitchen towels.