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Cake, salad, soup and more great recipe ideas for carrots, now in season

Cake, salad, soup and more great recipe ideas for carrots, now in season
Bunches of carrots from the Garden of.... stand at the Santa Monica farmers market. (Noelle Carter / Los Angeles Times)

What's in season: It might be hard to imagine that carrots have a season, but late winter into early spring is actually the best time for these root vegetables, because the cold weather makes for crisper, sweeter roots. Winter is also when you'll find a rainbow of colors and varieties, from deep Purple Haze and rich scarlet; to stubby orange Nantes, a variety prized for its sweet, mild flavor and crisp texture; and even ivory White Satin.

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What to cook: Carrots aren't a fussy vegetable at all and can be prepared in a variety of ways, or simply enjoyed raw. Grate or slice colorful fresh carrots to use in salads and slaws. Blanch the roots, then sauté with butter and fresh herbs, or a touch of garlic. Roast or stew the vegetable — the long cooking will bring out the root's sweeter notes. You can even throw carrots on the grill and deepen their flavor with subtle, smoky notes. While thicker, older carrots will need to be peeled before using, tender young carrots need only a light scrubbing before adding to a dish. And if you happen to buy a bunch with the tops attached, don't throw away the greens. Use the tops as a substitute for greens in pesto or another sauce.

What's on the horizon: Delicate pea tendrils and mounds of sugar snap peas are turning up.

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