Roasted baby carrots with honeyed pimenton yogurt and toasted almonds
Roasting vegetables conjures up images of the 1990s: bad vegetarian meals, limp produce and too many bell peppers.
Fear not. The poor roasted vegetable can be an incredible addition to a meal, or even the center of one. Just pay some attention to a few easy steps. The trick to roasting vegetables well is achieving a certain level of caramelization. Vegetables naturally contain sugar and when cooked at a warm enough temperature that sugar contributes such a rich depth of flavor, it’s hard to beat.
First, to pick the right vegetables. It’s hard to single out things that shouldn’t be roasted—I’m all for try- ing anything at least once. My favor- ites are more sturdy veggies—ones that can withstand a pretty high heat in the oven without turning to mush inside. In spring, I naturally reach for carrots but I also like early-season summer squash, artichoke bottoms, beets, radishes, spring onions and, of course, asparagus.
Oven temperature should be between 375° and 425°, and I always roast on a rimmed baking sheet. This pan allows me to spread out lots of vegetables without them overlap- ping, an important way to make
sure all sides get caramelized. When you stack them up or crowd the pan you’ll end up steaming instead of roasting, so make sure you’ve got some room.
At its most simple you can toss everything in olive oil, salt, pepper and call it a day. When spring vegetables are at the height of their season it’s really a shame to do much else to them. But if you insist on gilding the lily, throw in a handful of whole, skin-on garlic cloves, some wedges of lemon (be sure to squeeze them over the top just before serv- ing), sprigs of fresh herbs or a pinch of complementary dried spices. Don’t over do it—remember, you want the vegetables to shine here.
Resist the temptation to move anything around the pan while it roasts. To really achieve that crunchy brown exterior, vegetables need time to sear on the pan and the more you move them the more they’ll stick, tear and soften up. This is especially true for potatoes. (Side note: for the perfect roasted potato I believe in a quick blanch first and then move to roasting—the outside gets crispy while the inside becomes perfectly softened.)
Finally, if you’re taking the time to roast one sheet, why not do two or three? Roasted vegetables make fantastic leftovers. Stir them into pasta, grains or soups; purée them for spreads or slather your favorite bread with goat cheese and stack on the veg for a killer sandwich.
This recipe is barely a recipe, more of a guideline. It makes an easy side dish but I love it as an appetizer with the yogurt on the side for dipping. Rainbow carrots are especially stun-ning here if you can find them at your farmers market.
- 2 bunches baby carrots, all but 1 inch of the greens removed (peeled if desired)
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1⁄2 cup whole-milk Greek yogurt or lebneh 2 teaspoons pimenton, toasted until just fragrant
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1⁄4 cup raw almonds, coarsely chopped and toasted until lightly browned and fragrant
- 1. Heat oven to 400°. Place the carrots on a baking sheet big enough to hold them all in one layer and drizzle with the olive oil and a generous pinch each of salt and pepper, tossing well to coat evenly.
- 2. Roast the carrots without disturbing until golden brown and caramelized on the bottom, 10–15 minutes. Turn them once and continue cooking until nicely browned all over and just tender when pierced with a paring knife.
- 3. While carrots are cooking, combine the yogurt, pimenton, honey and a pinch each of salt and pepper.
- 4. Spread the carrots on a serving platter and drizzle the yogurt over the top. Sprinkle with toasted almonds and serve. Alternatively, yogurt can be served alongside the carrots.