june 14, 2013
Ever had a baby carrot? Not the baby cut carrots wrapped in cellophane at your grocery store, but a real baby carrot, just pulled from the earth. Last weekend at the Lakeside Farmer’s Market, I noticed that Walnut Hill Farm had a feathery pile of brilliant orange baby carrots arranged on a wooden table, and the dreary, drizzly morning brightened considerably.
Anything wrong with the carrots masquerading as infants in your local grocery? Not really, as myths about their production and treatment have been debunked by Snopes.com and others. What is true : they are generally larger carrots whittled into little batons. But they are bred for extra sweetness to appeal to kids, and I like the taste of a carrot that says “carrot” and not sweet treat. Nothing brings out the natural earthy sweetness of carrots like roasting. One of the most popular side dishes on The Good Eats Company winter menu is balsamic roasted root vegetables, with rutabaga, turnip, carrot, parsnip and beet.
Years ago, no one roasted vegetables; they were boiled, mashed, baked, but not roasted. Growing up, I almost always had carrots boiled to a pillowy submission, and raw, but never knew the delight that is a roasted carrot until recent years.
Roasting vegetables concentrates their flavors and caramelizes the exterior. The more surface area exposed to heat, the more even the cooking, so you will want to spread out the vegetables and not crowd them together. I used to roast at high temperatures of 400 degrees or higher, and now settle at 375 for most veggies. You want your oven high enough so that liquid evaporates and flavors are intensified, but not so high that your baby carrots are browned too deeply or too fast. I make an exception for potatoes because very high heat gives that crunch I crave.
Carrots and fresh dill have always traveled well together, and today I add a little kick of ground chipotle. Fleur de sel has a clean and bright taste, but other sea salts will serve you well. These carrots taste great right from the oven, at room temperature or chilled. You can toss them with a nice homemade vinaigrette for a refreshing summer salad, or serve them as I do with a dollop of Greek yogurt. The carrot greens make for a nice compost addition, or click here for a nice recipe for carrot green pesto.
roasted baby carrots with dill and chipotle
recipe by Michele Humlan, The Good Eats Company
12 ounces baby carrots (weight after tops removed – about 3 bunches), cleaned
1/2 T best quality extra virgin olive oil
fleur de sel
1 T finely minced fresh dill
ground chipotle powder – I like Penzey’s
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Trim baby carrots and toss with olive oil and a pinch of fleur de sel on a large rimmed baking sheet, spreading carrots out evenly.
- Roast for about 20 minutes until crisp-tender, until a thin knife inserts easily into the larger carrots.
- Scatter dill and give two or three shakes of chipotle powder across carrots and toss together.
- Serve immediately, at room temperature or chilled.