Our kitchen garden cook reveals her favourite recipes with the staple vegetable of our gardens: carrots.

“Sweetness is thin on the ground in the kitchen garden at this time of year, but, thanks to our winter crop of carrots, all is not completely lost. I like to whip up these homemade pittas for an on-the-go weekend lunch when everyone is too busy to sit down. And the carrot cake is perfect for afternoon tea when the family get home, tired and hungry from a day outdoors”

Spicy carrot falafels in homemade pittas with spicy yoghurt dressing

Serves 4
Ingredients

For the pittas
2 x 7g sachets dried yeast
500g plain flour
A good pinch of salt
350ml lukewarm water

For the falafels
250g carrots, coarsely grated
1 x 400g tin of chickpeas
Juice and zest of one lemon
1tbspn harissa
1tbspn plain flour
1 handful freshly chopped
parsley
Olive oil for frying

For the spicy yoghurt dressing
100g Greek yoghurt
2tspn harissa
Juice of one lemon
1 clove garlic, crushed
Seasoning

Method
Preheat your oven to 240˚C/475˚F/gas mark 9.
Whisk together the yeast, flour and salt in a large bowl. Slowly pour the water in, a quarter at a time, and mix well. Tip the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes, until smooth.
Grease another bowl with a little olive oil, transfer the dough to it, cover it with clingfilm and leave it somewhere warm for an hour, until it’s doubled in size. Remove the dough, knock it back, then divide into 12 balls. Press these down to flatten them and pull into oval shapes. Arrange on a floured baking tray and bake in the preheated oven for about eight minutes. While the dough is proving, make the carrot falafels. Put all the ingredients for them in a food processor and blitz until you have a coarse paste. Roll the mixture into balls, then squash them slightly. Fry in olive oil until gently browned. Mix together the dressing ingredients in a small bowl with a fork. Adjust seasoning and chilli heat to taste. To serve, slice an opening into warmed pittas and fill with a few hot falafels, some salad leaves and a drizzle of the dressing.

 

Garlic-roasted carrot hummus
Slice 4 large carrots into chunks, toss in olive oil and roast in a dish with three peeled cloves of garlic for about 25 minutes, or until tender. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Whizz the carrots and garlic up in a food processor with 3tbspn tahini paste, 4tbspn olive oil, the juice of a lemon and a drained 400g can of chickpeas. Blitz until smooth and taste for seasoning. Serve drizzled with olive oil and topped with a few whole chickpeas. This goes perfectly with homemade pittas.

 

Carrot layer cake
Line two 20cm loose-bottomed cake tins with baking paper. Sieve together 300g plain flour plus half a teaspoon each of salt, baking powder and soda, nutmeg, ground cloves and cinnamon. In a separate bowl, mix together 300g sunflower oil and 400g caster sugar, then slowly add 2 beaten eggs and 2 beaten egg yolks. Add 400g grated carrots and 150g chopped walnuts. Stir a splash of hot water through the mix and fold the flour and spices in. In another bowl, whisk 6 egg whites until stiff, then fold through the cake mixture. Pour into the prepared cake tins and bake at a medium heat for 40–45 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Once cooled on a rack, slice each cake in half and layer with cream-cheese frosting: 500g cream cheese, 200g unsalted butter and 150g icing sugar, all beaten together.