Two Years Ago: Power Muffins
I think carrots are one of the most taken-for-granted vegetables you can find, and I would have included myself in that camp until recently. I mean, raw carrots are everywhere, particularly those little cut-up mini carrots that show up in everyone's lunches. And cooked carrots? Meh. My memories of cooked carrots include chunks of carrot cooked to death with potatoes and pot roast until everything tastes like carrots. Or even worse, chunks of carrots that are boiled or steamed until mushy, then tossed with some heavy sweet and sticky sauce (the better to cover up the taste, probably).
And then I discovered the wonders of roasting vegetables, and particularly carrots. As they roast the sugars are caramelized and intensified, so the result is a fork-tender and sweet vegetable without the cloying sweet sauce. They're not only pretty, but truly delicious and of course very good for you. I've come across a couple of roasted carrot recipes lately that add large amount of butter and one that even adds Brie cheese if you can imagine, but I think simpler is better - a little olive oil, salt, and fresh herbs.
Rainbow-colored carrots are the prettiest and they're becoming easier to find - I've seen them at upscale grocers, natural food stores and farmers markets. Smaller carrots are more cute because you can leave them whole, but this technique works equally well for larger carrots that are cut up.
One of the biggest benefits to roasted carrots is that they taste equally good hot or at room temperature, so they're perfect for a buffet (think about a big platter of carrots next to your ham and scalloped potatoes at Easter). They're also great as a side dish next to roast beef, chicken, pork or lamb - just throw them in the oven as the meat rests and gets carved.
Or, as we had them today, they're a great centerpiece for a vegetarian meal with winter greens, a few pieces of good cheese and some toasted nuts. We had somewhat over-indulged at a weekend breakfast so this was the perfect balance for dinner.
Roasted Carrots with Herbs
2 lbs carrots (small to medium size is preferable)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp coarse salt
2 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs, such as chives, thyme, parsley, or a mix
Wash and peel the carrots, leaving about ½” of green tops. If small, leave whole, and if larger cut in half lengthwise and crosswise.
Heat oven to 450d.
In a large bowl, toss the carrots with oil, salt and half the herbs. Spread in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Roast, shaking the pan once, about 25 minutes until the carrots are fork-tender. Turn the oven to broil for a minute or two to brown the tops, watching closely so the carrots don’t burn. Remove and sprinkle with the remaining herbs.
Serve hot or at room temperature.