At the Culinary Vegetable Institute, we are blessed to be able to explore every iteration of each and every vegetable grown at The Chef’s Garden throughout the year. And, this year, Chef Jamie Simpson got to brainstorm with Farmer Lee Jones to make an extremely difficult decision.

Of all the amazing vegetables grown at the farm, which should we name as vegetable of the year?

As the headline shares, we’ve chosen mixed carrots, and you can find the rationale behind the choice at a blog post at The Chef’s Garden. Reasons include, of course, the marvelously earthy-sweet flavor of the carrot (especially those sustainably farmed in rich loamy soil), its versatility, and the gorgeous hues and unique shapes available to enjoy. (You can find even more reasons at The Chef’s Garden’s blog post.)

As for all of us at the Culinary Vegetable Institute, we now get to have fun, creating the ultimate dishes and dining experiences centered on unique expressions of the carrot.

If this intrigues you, tickets are already available for our March 9th Vegetable Showcase exploration of carrots and potatoes. If you’ve never been to a Vegetable Showcase, you might be looking for a precise menu on our site.

Well, there isn’t one.

With our showcases, we capture the exact moment of time at the farm as we look at every element of the plants being featured, and question how we can incorporate every piece and think about affinities of flavors and experiences in putting together combinations on the plate and dishes on the menu. Then the imagination kicks in, and we get busy in the kitchen.

What you can count on is an evening to remember, and techniques we might incorporate include to:

  • sauté
  • fry
  • roast
  • bake
  • grill
  • ferment
  • dehydrate
  • juice
  • freeze
  • pulverize
  • reconstitute

Does this mean we’ll explore the carrot only during the Vegetable Showcase? Absolutely not! We plan to celebrate mixed carrots throughout 2019—and beyond.

Our Passion for Carrots

Here are just two ways we’ve used carrots to date. One is our pea-and-carrot ice cream sandwiches, where you make cookies and layer veggie ice cream between them; you then freeze this concoction before icing and slicing—and you’ll end up with a fantastic frozen-layered dessert. You can find our recipe at the link we’ve provided above.

Carrot Dish with Carrot Puree

And, since using the entire vegetable—in this case, from carrot tip to carrot top—is a guiding principle at both The Chef’s Garden and the Culinary Vegetable Institute, here’s how to turn carrot tops into a marvelous puree.

Chef Jamie appreciates this particular technique because it allows him to balance flavor and texture; and, when using carrot tops, it adds a wonderful element of surprise—an element that’s understated, he says, “until you eat it.”

If he needed to compare the technique of pureeing vegetables to an art medium, Chef Jamie’s answer is simple: it’s like painting with oils.

We invite you to try this recipe, as well, and then enjoy this “glossy, velvety, thick, complex, vibrantly colored and intensely flavored puree.”

And, let’s face it. We love carrots so much that we even use them when we offer team building retreats!

Our New Year’s Wish for You

Health, happiness and joy – and carrots!