I used to hate cooked carrots as a child. The taste was so repulsive to me that a bite of a boiled or steamed carrot would make me gag. That’s really the only taste I can think of that elicited a strong response from me. My grandparents and parents recounted my obsession with raw onion as a child more times than I care to count. I have a strong palette, a strong stomach, and I enjoy new tastes. It wasn’t until trying perfectly roasted carrots that I learned preparation was key. It always is, isn’t it?

I grew up riding horses, so carrots were not only the treat of choice, but my daily snack. I love raw carrots. I must have eaten a pound each of carrots and apples per day throughout my riding career. They’re so easy to pull out of the fridge for a quick and mess-less snack that I rarely get around to cooking them. When I take the time though, they really are wonderful slow-roasted with a bit of olive oil, salt, and pepper. I’m reasonably certain I could subsist off of roasted vegetables for the remainder of my life.

Although I am perfectly content with carrots baked with a touch of olive oil, I was needing to clean out a few lingering items in the fridge one evening and came up with this recipe. It’s very fresh and simple, but mediterranean inspired with lemon and parsley and pine nuts. I threw some maitakes on the carrots mid-way through the baking process, and the result was a dish that could stand on its own. Packed with flavor, fiber, nutrients, and a variety of colors and textures, this side is wonderful served with meat or packed the next day as an impressive desk lunch.

Mediterranean Roasted Carrots 

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs of rainbow carrots, whole
  • 2 TBS olive oil
  • 4 oz maitake mushrooms
  • 1 lemon, thinly sliced
  • a pinch of cumin
  • a pinch of cardamom
  • a pinch of anise seed
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • pine nuts, as garnish
  • 2 TBS parsley, chopped
  • 1 TBS mint, chopped

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 450F.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, toss carrots with olive oil, cumin, cardamom, anise seed, salt and pepper.
  3. Line carrots up on a baking sheet, crowding them to avoid dryness.
  4. Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until just starting to become tender.
  5. Remove the baking sheet from the oven, and toss mushrooms with the carrots, being careful not to burn yourself.
  6. Replace baking sheet in the oven until vegetables are tender, another 10-20 minutes.
  7. Remove from oven, and garnish with parsley, mint, and pine nuts. Serve immediately.

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