It’s been a marathon weekend of painting around here – sandwiched in with regular weekend life, which means the painting happens in the “off hours” and off hours=late hours. I mentioned these carrots last night, and thought I’d wait and post this recipe this morning, but as soon as I turned on my computer and read the headlines, I ceased to really care about carrots. Now it’s the end of the day, and I’m worn out. Worn down. What do you do? I don’t know. Go to church? Go to a bookstore? Go for a run? I did all of those things, and they engaged my mind and my spirit in different, and difficult ways. I’m spent. All I have is carrots, and it’s nothing, I know that. I have outrage, and half written posts on all the hot topics – race, politics, religion, sex, guns. It’s summer and it’s busy and it’s so hard to tie up these things in neat packages, so for now I’ve got nothing. But if you know me, you know it’s there, simmering.
Tonight I sliced a watermelon, placed the triangles in the freezer for a few moments, topped them with goat cheese I whipped honey and vanilla into, and spread blueberry compote on top, followed by mint. For dinner, or at least for the salad portion of dinner. I spent the better part of the afternoon with E, and we talked about lots of things, many of them listed in that heavy list above. Tonight we talked again, and now she’s asleep and I’m the luck-luck-luckiest mother on the whole planet. How how have I earned that? Can I express my gratitude in food the color of rainbows?
You’ve probably seen this bumper sticker around town. I know a few people who have them on their cars. I parked next to one this afternoon.
I know it’s not the solution, but I can’t stop thinking about it. It’s just carrots, and not even fancy ones. It’s not enough, cooking them tasty food, but it’s a tool in my tool belt that helps me drive in the first sentence.
It started with a small bunch of carrots I picked up at the market last weekend.
(You can see the carrot tops sticking out from under all the flowers I purchased at the market. And the rhubarb. They sort of blend into the grass, but they lent some legitimacy to my market visit.)
I wasn’t really sure what I was going to do with them, but I figured I would probably roast them. But after scrubbing them and cutting off most of the leaves and stems, they were just so tiny and cute, they were calling out for a little fancier treatment.
In my head I pulled together two different ideas and sort of melded them into one, and the results were so good that I instantly regretted not buying more. I remedied that situation by buying three bunches yesterday morning, and thought I’d share this recipe as a great side dish or even an impressive (and delicious) starter course – I think it’s really lovely.
Fresh spring carrots, tops intact, the smaller the better. If you can find a variety of heirloom carrots in different colors, they look so beautiful in this dish. Scrub them really well, but you don’t need to peel them. Get them good and clean around the base of the greens where dirt likes to hang out.
Preheat oven to 425, rack in the middle position.
Trim the tops, leaving about an inch of stems left. These actually taste really good when you roast them, but you can also just use them like a little handle to pick up the carrots and eat them with your hands. Slice the carrots in half lengthwise.
Toss carrots with olive oil, whole, unpeeled garlic cloves, fresh sprigs of thyme, and salt and pepper to taste, be generous with all of the above. I use my hands, it’s quicker and more effective.
Roast carrots for 30-50 minutes. I know this is a huge range, but it really depends on the size of the carrots. I set my timer for 20 minutes, gave them a quick toss at that point and then checked at the 30 minute mark and again at 35. 35 was the magic number for these. You want them good and crispy on the edges, slightly shrunken and wrinkled, a little disheveled.
The inspiration for the rest of this came from a few places – my Fat Radish cookbook and my Ripe Cookbook. (And before I forget – @mylavenderblues on IG is where the watermelon recipe came from). Both of these suggested some form of sweet and spicy kick, executed in far more steps, and then I remembered the honey and red pepper flakes we drizzled on a Blue Apron recipe for pizza once, and then I thought “Mike’s Hot Honey!” plus the drooping, water-starved mint we brought in from the yard to hopefully rescue in the kitchen. (Mike’s Hot Honey was purchased at Porano Pasta, and is available here. Or make something similar by adding red pepper flakes to honey.)
And that’s it. The carrots are roasted to perfection, and everyone can drizzle with as much honey and mint as they’d like. It’s a great flavor combination, and it adds so much to dinner, or even snack time. They reheat well, so make plenty. Make them for somebody you love.