Despite their gorgeous colours of purple, orange, and sometimes white, carrots are the understated accompaniment to many a dish. I use them every day, be it as part of a mirepoix – along with celery and onion, an integral ingredient in many recipes – as a side dish or simply to crunch on as crudités for a pre-dinner snack . 

Carrot and cumin hummus with harissa + 2021 Chalmers Vermentino, Heathcote, A$27

We think of chickpeas as the key ingredient in hummus but this recipe steps outside the square by adding carrots with their innate sweetness and punchy flavour. The usual spike of cumin is augmented by the chilli hit of harissa. The Chalmers Vermentino’s intriguing texture subtly calms the spicy hummus leaving the wine’s fresh lemon pith flavours and citrusy acidity to bring harmony to the match.     

Carrot and ginger soup + Hillbilly Scrumpy Cloudy Apple Cider, Bilpin, A$5, 330ml

I overdid the ginger when I made this and was surprised how spicy the soup tasted. I grappled with a wine: a riesling liked the spice but didn’t have the necessary weight, a chardonnay became flabby and broad. There was a Hillbilly in the fridge, a quirky combination but it worked. The fruit sweetness of the apple matched the carrots while the Scrumpy’s textural richness dovetailed nicely with the density of the soup. 

Ottolenghi smashed carrots and chicken kofta + 2022 Holm Oak Riesling, Tasmania, A$33

No list of recipes would be complete without an entry from Yotam Ottolenghi. Here we have two – chicken kofta with a coffee and chilli rub plus a side of smashed carrots with coriander-pistachio pesto and pickled onions. There’s lots of flavours happening here and my first thought was a savoury rosé, but at hand was a bottle of Bec Duffy’s slinky riesling. The riesling’s lime leaf and spicy apple flavours sits well with the herbal notes in the pesto leaving the Holm Oak’s zesty acidity to play with the ping of chilli in the kofta.  

Ukrainian Sweet Carrot Salad with Pork Schnitzel + 2021 Byrne Farm Shiraz Pinot Noir, Orange, A$45

Pork schnitzel is a family favourite usually served with a red cabbage and carrot salad. However, here I’ve ditched the red cabbage for this simple carrot recipe with an egg mayonnaise and extra lemon juice adding a zing. I played with a chardonnay, a pinot noir and then pulled Jeff Byrne’s new release from the cellar. It was perfect – the intensity of the shiraz lapped up the porcine richness leaving the energy of the pinot noir to vie with the zest of the carrot salad. 

Lamb and Dutch carrot stew with mushrooms and eschalots + 2020 Penfolds Bin 138 Shiraz Grenache Mataro, South Australia, A$60

I claim this recipe as my own, as I’ve been cooking it for over 40 years. It never fails to impress. The key is good-quality lamb, lots of eschalots and a decent slurp (half a bottle) of rich sherry. I started with Mildara Chestnut Teal back then and was pleased to see it back on the market – decoupled from the Mildara brand. It’s a slow cook dish with the mushrooms added later and the carrots only 30 minutes before serving, so they maintain their crunch. A robust red is mandatory and the new Bin 138 is a cracker. 

Syd Pemberton’s Carrot Cake +  Mad Wine Chestnut Teal Apera, Murray Darling, A$27

This recipe for carrot cake comes from a long-time foodie friend, Sydney Pemberton. It’s very moist and delicious with lots of walnuts and a generous amount of olive oil. It’s not too sweet, which suits my palate. I paired the remnants of the Chestnut Teal with the cake to great success. It’s a luscious Sherry (oops, Apera, the approved moniker) with a nutty richness and pleasing, but not overtly, sweet finish.  ϖ