Celebrate the best of British carrots

Posted on: 04 May 2010 by Mark O'haire

If you’re among a growing band of consumers who want to support British farmers and are actively trying to cut down on your food miles and carbon footprint, then carrots should be top of your shopping list.

British carrots are available in the shops for around 11 months of the year, from early to mid June when the new British season starts right through to May and were recently given a carbon rating by Farmers Weekly of just 45g of carbon per 1kg of carrots, compared to 80g for onions, 240g for potatoes and 15,000g for beef.

But aside from doing your bit to help in the battle to reduce climate change and support British farmers and the economy, buying seasonal British produce just makes good sense if you want fresh, great tasting, reasonably priced food.

Carrots are also extremely good for you. They are high in fibre and brimming with beta-carotene, which the body uses to make vitamin A, a nutrient that’s needed for growth and healthy hair and skin as well as good vision. Studies have shown many children and adults have intakes well below the recommended levels.  Carrots are also naturally low in calories, fat, saturates and salt. An 80g serving – that’s equivalent to about ½ a medium-sized carrot or 3 heaped tablespoons – counts as one of your recommended five portions of fruit and veg a day.

To celebrate their increasing home grown appeal, the British Carrot Growers’ Association has developed a ‘Best of British’ collection of delicious recipes featuring the freshest seasonal ingredients.  So what are you waiting for?  Pick up a pack of carrots now and get cooking....

Carrot, chicken & barley soup

The next time you’re having a roast chicken, this soup is the ideal thing for the next day. Use the chicken bones to make delicious fresh chicken stock, the last bits of chicken meat and any leftover vegetables like potatoes or peas - all can be stirred in. Pearl barley thickens the soup and makes it really hearty too. It’s a delicious, warming soup for any time of year.

Preparation: 5 mins

Cooking: 25-30 mins

Serves: 4-6


  • 15ml/1tbsp vegetable oil
  • 450g/1lb carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 1 leek, cleaned and sliced
  • 1.2lt/2 pt chicken stock (see box)
  • 75g/3oz pearl barley
  • 175g/6oz cooked chicken, broken into bite sized chunks
  • 175g/6oz cooked potatoes, chopped
  • 100g/4oz cooked vegetables such as peas, broccoli, or green beans


  1. Heat the oil in a large pan, add the carrots and leeks, then saute over a medium heat for 4 mins. Add the stock, pearl barley, chicken and potatoes and season well.
  2. Bring to the boil, then cover and simmer for 20-25 mins or until the pearl barley and carrots are tender. Stir in the cooked vegetables, return to the boil and simmer for 1 min. Stir in the parsley and season to taste. Ladle into bowls and serve.

To make chicken stock

  1. Pick all the chicken that you can off a chicken carcass and set aside. Place the chicken bones, and skin in a large pan, cover with about 2.4ltr (4pts) water, add a bay leaf if you like, then bring to the boil.
  2. Cover and simmer for 30 mins to extract all the goodness from the bones, then remove the lid and simmer for a further 40mins or so or until the liquid has reduced by half.
  3. Strain to remove the bones then leave to stand for 5 mins. Use a spoon to skim off any excess fat which rises to the surface of the stock. It’s now ready to use but can be stored in the fridge for upto 4 days or frozen for upto 6 months.

Cooks tip: To save time you can always make chicken stock with a stock cube or concentrate.

Veggie crumble pieVeggie crumble pie

Preparation: 15 mins

Cooking: 30 mins

Serves: 4 as a main course or 6 as a side dish


  • 1.2ltrl/2pts vegetable stock
  • 450g/1lb carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 225g/8oz parsnips, peeled, halved and sliced
  • 350g/12oz small new potatoes, halved
  • 2 leeks, cleaned and sliced
  • 150g/5oz frozen peas
  • 60ml/4tbsp cornflour
  • 60ml4tbsp creme fraiche
  • 30ml/2tbsp chopped fresh or 10ml/2tsp dried tarragon
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the topping:

  • 175g/6oz plain flour
  • 75g/3oz butter
  • 15ml/1tbsp English mustard
  • 75g/3oz cheddar cheese, grated


  1. Preheat the oven to 200C/Fan 180C/Gas Mark 6. Place the stock in a large pan and bring to the boil, add the carrots, parsnips and new potatoes, cover, return to the boil and simmer for 15mins or until they are tender. Stir in the leeks and peas, return the stock to the boil then remove from the heat.
  2. Drain the stock and reserve. Place the vegetables in an ovenproof dish. Discard 300ml/1/2pt of the stock, return the rest to the pan. Mix the cornflour to a smooth paste with a little cold water and stir into the stock with the creme fraiche and tarragon.
  3. Bring the mixture to the boil, stirring until you have a smooth creamy sauce. Simmer for 1 min. Pour the sauce over the vegetables and season well.
  4. Place all the topping ingredients in a food processor  with a good pinch of salt and ground black pepper; whizz together until they resemble fine breadcrumbs. (if you haven’t got a food processor then rub the butter into the flour, then stir in the mustard and cheese and rub together again until you have a crumbly mixture).
  5. Scatter the mixture over the top of the vegetables then bake for 20 mins or until the top is golden brown. Serve as a vegetarian main course or vegetable side dish.

Cottage pie with carrot & potato mash

Adding carrots to the mash adds a tasty and colourful twist to this family favourite – and helps to make it slightly lower in calories. Great news if you want to lose a few pounds!

Preparation: 10 mins

Cooking:  40-45 mins

Serves: 4


  • 500g extra-lean minced beef
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 1 large onion, peeled and chopped
  • 2 carrots, washed, trimmed and diced
  • 2tbsp plain flour
  • 500ml beef stock
  • 1tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1tbsp tomato puree
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the mash:

  • 500g potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 225g carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
  • a knob of low-fat spread or butter


  1. Heat a large non-stick frying pan and add the mince. Fry for 6mins, stirring occasionally, until browned. Add the garlic, onion and carrots and cook for a further 2mins. Stir in the flour and cook for 1min.
  2. Add the stock to the pan, stirring, then add the Worcestershire sauce and tomato puree. Season with black pepper. Bring to the boil and simmer for 10-15mins, removing the lid for the final 5mins.
  3. Meanwhile, cook the potatoes and carrots in a large pan of lightly salted water for 15mins or until both are tender. Drain well then mash with the low-fat spread or butter. Season with black pepper. Cover and set to one side.
  4. Spoon the mince into a large shallow dish, then top with the carrot and potato mash, smoothing the surface. Place under a preheated grill for 4-5mins or until the top is golden brown. Serve hot with steamed vegetables.

You can also freeze this dish in a suitable container for up to 3months. Thaw the dish thoroughly when you come to cooking and place in the oven at 200C/Fan 180C/Gas 6 for 25mins. 

Best ever carrot cakeThe best ever carrot cake

Moist sponge lightly spiced and sandwiched together with cream cheese icing - who could resist? Not everyone is a fan of walnuts though so if you prefer replace the walnuts with raisins instead. It’s hard to say which tastes best!

Preparation: 20 mins

Cooking: 30-35 mins

Makes: 1 large 20cm/8in cake


  • 350g/12oz light soft brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 350ml/12floz sunflower oil
  • 350g/12oz plain flour
  • 7.5ml/11/2tsp baking powder
  • 5ml/1tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 10ml/2tsp ground cinnamon
  • 5ml/1tsp ground ginger
  • 5ml/1tsp vanilla essence
  • 350g/12oz carrots, peeled and grated
  • 75g/3oz finely chopped walnuts or raisins

For the icing:

  • 350g/12oz icing sugar
  • 50g/2oz soft butter
  • 5ml/1tsp vanilla essence
  • 150g/5oz cold cream cheese
  • walnut halves and a little ground cinnamon to dust


  1. Preheat the oven to 170C/Fan 150C/325F/Gas Mark 3. Lightly oil 3 x 20cm/8in sandwich tins and base line with baking parchment.
  2. Place the sugar, oil, and eggs in a large bowl and beat together with a wooden spoon until the mixture is smooth and thickened. Sift over the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, cinnamon and ginger then fold in until well mixed. Fold in the carrots and walnuts or raisins.
  3. Divide the mixture between the prepared cake tins. Bake in the middle of the oven for 30-35mins or until golden, risen and the middle bounces back when lightly pressed. Leave to cool in the tin for 5 mins before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
  4. For the icing: sift the icing sugar into a large bowl, add the soft butter and vanilla essence. Use an electric whisk on low, to beat this until it is well mixed. Add the cream cheese and briefly beat together again until just combined. Don’t over beat or it will become runny.
  5. When the cakes are cold, peel away the baking parchment. Divide the icing between the three cakes, spreading it evenly over the top of each. Stack the cakes one on top of the other. Top with the walnut halves and cinnamon. Store in a cool place.

For more recipes and carroty facts, visit www.britishcarrots.co.uk.

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