Do you have any idea how long it takes you to grate a carrot?
It’s not a competition or anything, but it takes me about 40 seconds to peel and grate one large carrot by hand. If I’m using the grating attachment on my food processor, this task takes about about 15 seconds, but that does’t account for getting the machine set up (or cleaning it afterwards). Not bad eh?
I’ve been thinking deeply about grated carrot recently after seeing a tweet from a high-up in the horticultural world that said packaged grated carrot was ‘flying off the shelves’ in New Zealand supermarkets. You read that right. People apparently prefer to pay nearly four times as much for pre-grated carrot rather than spending less than two minutes doing it themselves at home. A 250g packet of grated carrot (wrapped in plastic) will cost you about $2 – the same as a kilo of whole carrots (that you can put straight into your non-plastic bag).
To me, this is a very bad sign. Is the ability to buy pre-grated carrot a new status symbol?
I know we should be pleased that people are eating grated carrot (I suspect this is the Nadia Lim effect), but shouldn’t we also be concerned that priorities are getting seriously out of whack? I get that life can be full-on and fraught, but are you really ever too busy to grate a carrot?
I might be old-fashioned but I believe that being able to operate a traditional box grater without shredding your knuckles is a key life skill for every member of your household. It’s a companionable task that can be done while chatting to the main cook, thereby assisting them to get on with the rest of the meal a bit faster. Who knows, it might even give you more time to chat over dinner later?
SPAGHETTI WITH AGRO-DOLCE CARROTS
Agrodolce might sound like a kind of pesticide, but it’s an Italian term that roughly translates as sweet and sour. If you’re using a food processor to grate the carrot, do yourself a favour and use it to chop the onion, garlic and parsley too.
- 1 cup raisins
- ⅓ cup apple cider vinegar
- 4-5 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 large onions, finely sliced
- 3 cloves garlic, finely sliced
- A large pinch of salt
- 4 large carrots, peeled and grated
- A handful fresh flatleaf parsley, finely chopped
- 450g dried spaghetti
Pour the vinegar over the raisins. Add a splash of boiling water, stir and set aside.
Heat 4Tbsp of the olive oil in a large, heavy pan. Add the onions, garlic and salt. Saute gently for 10 minutes, until the onions are soft and starting to colour. Add the carrot and cook, stirring, for another 3-4 minutes. Add the raisins and their soaking liquid. Toss through and continue cooking until the carrots are soft (just another minute or two). Remove from the heat.
While the onions are cooking, cook the spaghetti in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente (about 9 minutes). Drain well, reserving about ⅓ cup of the cooking water. Return the carrots pan to the heat and add the spaghetti, the reserved cooking water and the parsley, tossing well to combine. Season well with lots of freshly ground black pepper.
Divide between four warmed waiting bowls and serve immediately. Eat with freshly grated pecorino romano or another hard cheese (not pre-grated, if you please) as you wish.
Fancy more ways to utilise your newfound (or refound) grating skills? You might like this classic French Carrot Salad, or my Ultimate Carrot Cake.