Friday, September 17, 2010

Roasted Balsamic Carrots

Remember my father's garden?
Well, this is how it looks in September. All fall colors and 100 pound pumpkins.

But, believe me, it is still chalk full of goodies.
Pulling up carrots in the garden is one of my favorite activities, and it has been as long as I can remember. I mean you start pulling on this green stuff surrounded by dirt, and all of a sudden:

Not only is pulling up carrots enjoyable, I think carrots might be one of the most underestimated vegetables. People think they are fine as far as carrots go, but rarely do people think of them as impressive or delicious. But, just look at them: something this gorgeous has to be delicious.
The key to unlocking the potential in carrots involves giving them a little extra love. Do things to bring out their natural sweetness: pair them with flavors that suit them, like balsamic, orange, or thyme; and choose a method that gives them a little extra time to sweeten up. I like roasting them, with that high heat, they get almost caramelized.

This go round, I roasted the carrots and tossed them with balsamic, and I am telling you, this dish is one of the best things I have ever made.

To make them, as ever with roasting, two things are important. First, cut the carrots evenly, so they roast at the same rate. Second, get the carrots in one layer on a baking sheet. If you crowd them or layer them on top of each other, they will steam, and not roast. Which means that the outside will not get crisp and golden, just mushy.
(I threw in some garden picked new potatoes as well).

Toss them with olive oil, salt, and pepper.
Pop them in the oven for 45-50 minutes, until they are beginning to look charred.
Pull them out, and immediately toss with a splash of balsamic vinegar, a little salt, and a little pepper. Let them sit for a few minutes,
and these will get you rethinking the everything you knew about carrots.

Roasted Balsamic Carrots
Carrots, peeled and cut into even pieces*
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Fresh ground black pepper
Balsamic vinegar

Preheat oven to 425. Arrange carrots in one layer on a baking sheet. Toss with salt, pepper, and a light coating of olive oil. Roast for 45-60 minutes, depending on the size of the carrots, until beginning to look slightly charred. Stir occasionally.

Remove from the oven into a separate bowl. Add a splash of balsamic, salt, and pepper.** Let sit for a few minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

*Since I had smaller carrots, I cut them into match-stick like pieces. But, there is nothing wrong with bigger chunks of carrots, they will just take more like an hour to roast than 45 minutes.
**You can also add another splash of olive oil if you want.

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