Carrots are an excellent bento box filler item. I consider them “multi-taskers”. Julienned, curled or cut into pretty flower shapes, they are ranked high for adding both color and nutrition to your bento lunch. Tucking some raw carrot spears into the empty spaces between the musubis and protein foods keep the bento box nice and snug, which maintains your presentation. Roasted carrots, for a change of pace, especially when the colorful kind are available, really jazzes up the look and taste of your lunch!
Today, I have a different idea. At my last outing to the Farmer’s Market, I bought a bunch of color carrots; white, yellow, and purple. Although these purple carrots were only “skin deep” purple, not like the ones from summer that had color almost all the way to the core. But no matter, they taste fabulous and that is what counts the most . White and yellow carrots, in my opinion, are a bit an the bitter/savory side and I prefer cooking these rather than serving raw. This recipe, “Gingered Carrots” is perfect not only for the fancy shmancy carrots but for all types. What I love about this recipe is that I can cook the carrots in the rice cooker. You read that right, the rice cooker! I know I’m not the first person to use the rice cooker for other then gohan, but I get a little thrill when my cooking experiment turns out well. If you don’t have a rice cooker, you can use a pot and adjust the heat as needed. Full disclosure: I use one of the smallest rice cooker on the market, which I think cooks a maximum of 4 cups of rice. If your rice cooker is large then adjust your proportions and if your cooker has a “keep warm” feature, turn it off, or the sweetener in the recipe will start to burn.
2 large carrots
1/4 cup of brown rice syrup or honey (brown sugar will work too)
1/4 cup of pureed peeled ginger
1/2 more or less of water
Chop carrots into chunks and place into the rice cooker pot. ( I used purple/orange and yellow variety for this batch) Add your choice of sweetener and the ginger. Mix thoroughly to coat all the carrot pieces. Carefully add water to the bottom of the pan while avoiding washing off the carrots. There should be about 1/2 depth of water. Turn on the cooker let it go until your hear the “ding”! Carrots are done! Cool completely before packing in your bento box.
Other foods that I’ve cooked in the rice cooker are sweet potatoes, pumpkin, and chestnuts.! I once saw someone cook hard boiled eggs in a rice cooker, but I’ve never tried that and I don’t recommend cooking just anything in this appliance. Vegetables sound about right and always follow manufacturer recommendations. Anyone else have experience with using a rice cooker for other than rice? If you have, please share your recipe.