Plant-Based Me: Carrot Hot Dogs

Of course I just had to try this crazy idea for myself. And of COURSE I thought it would work even better with my favorite Rainbow Carrots, especially the darker orange to red ones. It doesn’t matter what color your carrot is (although I wouldn’t use white ones)—this is a fun and great-tasting alternative to a regular hot dog.

Photo by Stephen Ausmus, USDA ARS

Rainbow Carrots! from Wikimedia Commons and the USDA

Hot dogs might be an American tradition, but they’re loaded with salt, fat, sugar, chemicals, and animal parts most people have never imagined. Meat dogs even have soy filler–and we know that commercially produced soy protein isn’t that good for you. (GMOs, pesticides, you name it.)There are some good natural meat hot dogs out there, no doubt. But for me, having gone vegetarian-almost-vegan (I am still working on it), having a healthy, plant-based alternative to a favorite meat-treat is a no brainer. So I did my usual thing. I looked at multiple recipes online. And then I did my own twist.

Having now tried the experiment I can say: carrot hot dogs. YES. Taste like hot dogs. Without the grease, excessive saltiness, and funky aftertaste. I am sold. I extracted one of my experimental carrots, which were marinating for two days in a paste of smoked paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, pepper, molasses, just a pinch of pink salt, and apple cider vinegar. Stuck it on a fork. Held it over the gas fire on the stove and blistered it up, the way I like a hot dog cooked on an open flame. YUM. The only thing I did wrong initially was leave the hot dogs too long, I mean carrots, in the hot water for the precook instead of getting them in cold water right away. (I had an EMERGENCY.) So they are a little TOO soft, but the taste is great. I can’t wait to try them on wood charcoal.

Here’s the recipe. You can also check other recipes here  and here.

Carrot Hot Dogs

  • Six to twelve carrots, try to get fairly uniform thickness, trim to “bun-length”.  If they are organic carrots, just give them a good scrub. If they’re commercial ones, peel.
  • A gallon size BPA free ziplock type bag. Alternatively, a lidded glass or BPA free plastic container big enough for the amount of carrots you choose.
  • Tablespoon of smoked paprika
  • Teaspoon of garlic powder and onion powder
  • Half-teaspoon of cumin, black pepper (optional)
  • Few drops of liquid smoke (optional)
  • Two tablespoons of molasses. Alternatively, you can use pure maple syrup or raw local honey.
  • A half cup of cider vinegar, or rice wine vinegar, or white balsamic. (If using “seasoned” rice vinegar or white balsamic, cut back on the sweetners above.)

Parboil the carrots until just fork tender. Run under cold water to stop the cooking process. (I delayed on that due to an…emergency, let’s say.  Please get all emergencies out of the way before this step.)

While the carrots are cooking, put all the other ingredients into the baggie, zip it up, and massage the contents around to mix.  If using a container, dump ’em in and mix around with whatever you like to use, finger, spoon, chopstick, cat’s tail. 😀 Well, maybe not the tail, fur isn’t too great in food. And it’s not vegan. Neither are fingers, on that thought. Hm.)

Put the cooled carrots into the baggie (or container), make sure they get well-coated with the mixture. Squeeze excess air out and seal. Store in the fridge at least 24 hours. I take the baggie and shake or manipulate (gently) the carrots to make sure they get maximum marinade action. Do this especially with carrots in containers, roll them around a few times when you go to the fridge for a drink or snack.

When you’re ready to try them: No need to wipe or rinse–leave any marinade sticking to your carrots right where it is! You can pan-cook, using the excess marinade for extra glazing and flavor, or roast them on charcoal, or put them on a stick over the gas flame on the stove. Eat. Enjoy! Eat them plain or put them in a bun with hot dog fixins! Let me know what you think.

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