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Vegan Cookbook Club: Carrots are great on a bun or in a bowl

A fistful of farmers' market carrots. Photo by Emma Ambrosi

"Do you carrot-all for me?" asks an old Valentine verse. Who doesn't like carrots? Carrots are among the most popular vegetables in the world. We munch on carrot sticks, shred them into carrot cake, or put them through the juicer. But if you're craving something saucy and toothsome to eat on a bun, you might not immediately think "carrots!"

Well, just wait till you try "Pulled BBQ Carrots" from Vegan Cookbook Club member Susan Alexander. It delivers a satisfying earthy-sweet chewiness, and you can easily customize the dish by using your own favorite barbecue sauce.

Susan has been walking the vegan path for more than a decade and is a wonderfully candid and creative food explorer. Now she and her husband, Vince Senski, reside in southeastern Wisconsin, but Susan is still a regular contributor to the monthly Vegan Cookbook Club via email.

Susan's recipe is based on "Great Vegan BBQ Without a Grill" by mother-daughter team Linda and Alex Meyer. Susan offers this serving suggestion: "I serve my BBQ on a bun with vegan coleslaw (just cabbage and vegan mayo, thank you very much), dill pickle, tomato slices and a slice of vegan cheddar. When I'm really feeling fancy-schmancy, I toast the bun."

Pulled BBQ Carrots

6 large carrots, peeled and shredded

1 large onion, very thinly sliced

½ tsp salt

1 tsp olive or other plant oil

3-4 tbsp vegetable broth

8 oz your favorite barbecue sauce

Saute carrots, onion and salt in the oil until onions are translucent. Add vegetable broth, cover and steam until carrots are tender, adding more broth if needed. Remove lid and steam off or drain off any remaining liquid. Add barbecue sauce, gently heat through and serve on buns.

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Not in the mood for barbecue? These oven-roasted carrot slices (my version of "Carrot Lox" from "Sam Turnbull's Fuss-Free Vegan") have a sweet-salty sauce that soaks deliciously into a thick slice of artisan bread.

Smoky Oven-Roasted Carrot Slices

2-3 medium carrots

¼ cup water

1 tbsp reduced-sodium tamari or soy sauce

1 tbsp miso paste

1 tsp liquid smoke

½ tsp garlic powder

Preheat oven to 400. Scrub or peel carrots; slice into very thin pennies to make about 2 cups. Combine remaining ingredients in a small baking dish. Add carrot slices and stir to coat. Cover dish with foil and bake for 30 minutes, stirring once about halfway through. Test for doneness. Bake longer if you want the carrots softer. Serve on hearty bread, in a pita, or as a side dish.

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Carrots also form the base for a delicious curry that is rich-tasting and easy to make. This recipe comes from my longtime friend and neighbor Bobbye Larson. Adjust the amount of broth to make the curry as thick or as soupy as you like. The soup also makes a great base for the addition of other steamed veggies such as cauliflorets, broccoli florets, peas, or chopped greens. Stir these in after the soup is blended. Bobbye offers this tip: use good quality curry powder that is not old and stale.

Curried Carrot Soup

1 small onion

1 tablespoon curry powder

½ tsp salt

1 tsp coconut oil

1 tablespoon chopped fresh ginger

4 cups peeled, chopped carrots

2 cups vegetable broth, plus more for thinning if desired

One 13.5-ounce can of coconut milk

Saute onion, curry powder and salt in coconut oil for a minute or two. Add ginger, carrots and broth and simmer, covered, until carrots are tender — about 20 minutes. Let soup cool slightly (or you can put it in the fridge at this point and come back to it later), then carefully blend it all in a blender, food processor, or using an immersion blender. Thoroughly shake the can of coconut milk before opening it, then add it to the blended soup. Gently reheat the soup, taste for salt, and thin with broth or nondairy milk if desired.

Did you know?

Earthday.org reports, "The United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that the meat industry generates nearly one-fifth of the manmade greenhouse gas emissions that are accelerating climate change worldwide — more than the entire transportation sector!"

Bonnie Ambrosi lives in Duluth and is an organizer of The Vegan Cookbook Club which meets at 11:30 a.m. on the first Thursday of every month at Mount Royal Branch Library. Contact Ambrosi at bonnieambrosi@gmail.com.

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