Roasted Carrots

When planning any meal, the colours on the plate are as important to me as the flavours in the food. Blame my background in art and design, or the hope that a riot of colour on our plates will sufficiently distract any vegetable averse people at my table.

These roasted carrots featured at several of the many festive meals I made through the month long period of Jewish holidays that finally ended last week.  We literally ate these zesty roots both hot and at room temperature with everything, making them the perfect side dish. And they will certainly appear as part of our Thanksgiving spread (more on that soon).

The recipe is adapted from Travis Lett's Gjelina cookbook which wins my prize for Book of the Year, primarily because it single handedly changed my vegetable roasting method forever.

Many of the recipes in Gjelina go against conventional wisdom and instead blast the vegetables for a short period of time at 250C (500F). This method quickly gives even tough rooty vegetables a dreamy caramelised exterior and crunchy bite. Coincidentally, this is also the temperature I use for cooking sourdough bread and chicken, so my oven is often already set and I can efficiently chuck in my veggies without having to change the settings. Every second counts when you’re always behind schedule!

As usual, I have a few notes and pointers for you.  I used young leafy carrots from the farmers market here. I like keeping a little bit of the green top in tact for beauty but make sure you wash them well as there can be a lot of grit in those leaves.  Earlier in the autumn I made them with all those beautiful multi coloured carrots and they were glorious on the table.  If you use regular unpretentious carrots in your recipe, I would still be inclined to keep them in long lengths, and halve or quarter them if they are very big.  Feel free to drizzle them with a tahini or yogurt dressing of your choice to serve.  I keep them simple so that they go with everything, but these carrots certainly lend themselves to being adorned with a variety of dressings.

Even if you are only two or three people for a meal, they make great leftovers to supplement any other meal.  They are that good.

Roasted Carrots

Adapted from Gjelina, Cooking from Venice California by Travis Lett

1kg leafy carrots (or colourful carrots of your choice)

1 orange (preferably organic and unwaxed)

60ml (1/4 cup) olive oil

a good pinch of salt and pepper

3-4 thyme sprigs

60ml white wine or stock (vegetable or chicken)

corriander leaves and toasted sesame seeds for garnish (optional)

Preheat oven to 250C (500F)

If you are using young carrots, there is no need to peel them, just rinse them well, and slice them in half length ways.  You want them to be the size of long fat chips.

Place on a shallow sided roasting tin large enough to hold the carrots in one layer.

Halve the orange and squeeze the juice over the carrots.  You can of course use 60ml (1/4 cup) orange juice here, but I never have any in the house so I just use an orange that is usually hanging around in my fruitbowl.

Drizzle the carrots with the olive oil, salt, pepper and white wine or stock and toss with the thyme sprigs.  The carrots will happily sit in the olive oil/orange juice/wine combo for a little while if you are not ready to cook them immediately (I have been known to prep them in the morning before cooking them in the early evening)

Roast in the middle of the oven for approximately 15 minutes turning once until they are caramelised around the edges and still a little firm.  Keep an eye on them - if they are very small and thin they may not take quite that long to cook.

When you are ready to serve, feel free to sprinkle with some coriander leaves or toasted sesame seeds, but they are also great on their own.