Recently, my brother asked an extremely adorable vegetarian to be his wife. She said yes. And I’d like to think that in some small way, my cooking had something to do with it. You see, my brother’s favorite meal growing up was French dip au jus. If there are chicken wings on a menu, they’ll end up on his plate. And I’m pretty sure if he had a choice between ribs and rice pilaf, he’d go with the former.
Luckily, though, his love for meat did not outweigh his love for this girl. And he was totally game to let me, his sister, come up with creative food swaps that kept everyone satisfied, including these faux pulled pork sandwiches. The secret ingredient? Carrots!
Let's talk about pulled pork sandwiches. Juicy, drippy, pulled pork sandwiches. Rich from melted meat fat and thickened by a sweet and savory barbecue sauce. They are a carnivorous delight. And with the help of some stewed carrots, they can be vegetarian, too.
By switching typical pulled pork for pulled carrot sandwiches once in a while, you'll keep your herbivore friends happy (and amazed). But there are some bonus points, too! They are also a super-healthy alternative to pulled pork and way less time consuming. So whether you are in a pinch, looking to beef up your produce intake, or hoping to marry a vegetarian, give this dish a try.
How to Make Pulled Carrots
To make pulled carrot sandwiches, start by cutting 2 medium carrots into thin matchsticks with a sharp knife, or make ribbons with a spiralizer or peeler. You can also opt for the grater attachment on your food processor if you want a more delicate texture. This should yield enough carrots to make 6 slider-sized sandwiches.
Then, heat a little oil in a medium saucepan, and when ready, add minced garlic and onion. Add the carrots and your favorite barbecue sauce, homemade or from a jar. Let it lightly boil and stew until the carrots are soft.
Finally, separate the carrots from the sauce and keep the sauce bubbling in the pan over medium-high until it thickens. To serve, stuff mini bread rolls or buns with cabbage or slaw, top with the pulled carrots, and add a spoonful of the thickened barbecue sauce. Eat.
Old Ingredients, New Tricks
As someone who constantly makes over dishes for dietary and health needs, I'm used to using total creative license when it comes to food. And the good news is we already live in a culinary world where zucchinis can be noodles, beets can be chips, and cucumbers can act like baguettes. So let me be your guide as we dust off some standard items from the produce aisle and give them a chance to show off a little. It’s an exercise in recipe liberation (not limitations) that will not only lighten up those eating habits but also give new life to old favorites.
So whether you’re trying to ditch the gluten, sugar, or just a pant size, let’s forget about pledging to take on a new diet. And let’s pledge instead to break some rules and teach a handful of old ingredients some new tricks.
(Image credits: Jessica Goldman Foung)