Botanical name: Daucus carota
Carrot is not a food that everyone likes: many in fact refuse its sweetness - not considering it acceptable in a vegetable - while others are perplexed about its crunchiness. However, these are characteristics that reveal some of the strengths of this root, namely the richness of mineral salts and sugars and the high fiber content. The sweet taste makes it an excellent ingredient for first, second courses and side dishes in which to play on flavor contrasts, but also to prepare the classic cake enriched with almonds.
Origins and history
Classified by Linnaeus in 1753 with the name of Daucus carota, it is a herbaceous plant, with white umbrella-like inflorescences, of which the root is consumed, which - according to the variety - has colors ranging from white to those cultivated for the forage, to yellow and orange, from red to purple.
The spontaneous plant is found everywhere in Europe, Asia - where it has its origins, perhaps in Afghanistan - and northern Africa, from which the spread is later passed to Australia and North America; it is not uncommon to find it as a weed in arid points of the countryside or even on the edges of cities, as its seeds resist in the ground maintaining their germinability for 2 to 5 years. The vegetables commonly found on our table are varieties developed from the "sativa" subspecies, which means "spontaneous".
Nutritional and beneficial properties of carrot
As mentioned, the carrot is a vegetable very rich in mineral salts, as well as having a high content of vitamins. The typical bright color is due to the abundance of carotene, which metabolizes vitamin A, which also functions as an antioxidant; moreover, it has an abundance of vitamin C and potassium, selenium, a fair amount of calcium and other microelements that are precious for health. With only 35 calories per 100 grams of weight, it is indicated in low-calorie diets, while to keep as much vitamins as possible - which must be destroyed at high temperatures - it is advisable to consume it raw or steamed. .
Frozen, the nutritional principles are best preserved at a temperature not lower than 0 °; the high percentage of fiber contained - which makes carrots an ideal vegetable for the good functioning of the intestine - loses, as is known, in turn consistency if the humidity is excessive or the temperature is too low.
Use of carrot in the kitchen
Carrot has a naturally fresh and delicate taste and is on sale all year round; it can be cut into sticks to be fried in batter, or grated raw in thin flakes and seasoned with lemon, oil and dill or thyme - or other herbs to taste - to make a summer side dish.
Always raw, it can be used as one of the vegetables with which to prepare the pinzimonio; is an excellent base for centrifuged, to be made by mixing it for example with lime juice and flavoring everything with a little Tabasco and salt, to obtain a drink rich in aromas and vitamins, with an exotic flavor and very useful for helping tanning. In fact, the beta-carotene contained has an antioxidant function, but it enters as a component in some tanning creams precisely due to its action of supporting the accumulation of melanin in the epidermis. tea " with leaves and carrot juice, which can stain the skin, irritate it or worse. The plant of the wild variety can in fact be mistaken for that of hemlock, which belongs to the same family and which is known to have been used to kill Socrates.
Recommended in the colder seasons is the classic cake with almond flour, in which the taste of the main ingredient - rich in simple sugars - and the cheerful color that gives the cake make it a suitable dessert on many occasions and very healthy. Likewise, a carrot-based cream, with asparagus tips, scented with chives and accompanied by croutons, can make an excellent first course.
Carrot has always been used as a natural element to color fabrics, to which it gives a color ranging from yellow to light orange.
In North America, where this vegetable as we know it now was imported, it is also called "Queen Anne's Lace". The name is due to the ruler to whose will - it is said - the introduction of the plant was due, and to the appearance of the umbrella of the inflorescences, white and light as an embroidery but with a small red heart, where a drop would have fallen of blood from the finger that the queen pricked with the needle.