I am always attracted to fresh, bright orange carrots at the farmers market. With their springy, leafy green tops and wispy roots still attached, they are worlds apart from their plastic-wrapped counterparts at the grocery store. They might even still have a little dirt clinging to them, telling you they really came from the earth. (As opposed to those perfectly shaped baby carrots; who knows where they really come from...)
Freshly washed carrots from the farmers market.
The carrots from the farmers market even taste better - they have a sweeter and more grassy taste, whereas I think the carrots from the grocery store just taste a little watery and dull. And speaking of watery, it is funny how those plastic wrapped carrots are packed in water, but yet can be so dry. The carrots from the farmers market are always fresh and full of life. And if you like a little variety in your life, look no further than the farmers market to find red, purple, and yellow carrots.
The carrots from the farmers market come in all sizes... including some mini ones.
Sometimes when I get these carrots I just bring them home and eat them raw with an easy veggie dip, or I slice them up for salads or slaws. But recently, I have been really into roasting them with spices to enhance their sweet flavor.
No need to peel them, these carrots are perfect and beautiful just sliced in half.
You can really toss vegetables with any spices you like, but I often try out some new or more exotic spice blends. Spice things up, if you will. (Ha! A pun!)
So for these spice roasted carrots, I decided to mix sweet and salty with a rich spice blend known as baharat. Baharat is a Middle Eastern spice blend commonly used to season lamb, lentils, stews, and soups and there are several different varieties. The one originating in Turkey also contains mint, but the most traditional Arabic or North African baharat spice blend contains black pepper, coriander, cloves, cassia bark, cumin, cardamom, nutmeg, and allspice. Some blends also include chili pepper or paprika to give them a bit more ‘heat,’ but mine doesn't so I added some extra cayenne pepper to this recipe.
Olive oil with sugar, salt, and spices to glaze the carrots.
Drizzle the glaze over the carrots...
...then toss them so they are well-coated before roasting...
...and in 15 minutes you can have a great, healthy side dish for a weeknight meal.
Obviously this is a recipe you could also make with large, bagged carrots from the grocery store, so that makes this an easy side for a weeknight meal; plus, the flavors are exotic and spicy, so it can shake up your normal everyday routine. However, I would argue this recipe will taste best with fresh-from-the-earth carrots, so pick them from your own garden, pick them from your neighbor's garden (after asking nicely, of course), or pick some up at your local farmers market. To find Baharat, check Whole Foods, order it from Amazon, or from fine spice purveyors online.
Also, if you want to roast sweet potatoes with this spice blend, check out my recipe on Chef Marcus Sameulsson's site.
You might also like: My mom's Easiest Chicken Barley Chili
One year ago: Pecan Crusted Duck with Spinach and Sausage
*And just FYI, I sent this over to Get Grillin’ with Family Fresh Cooking and Cookin’ Canuck, sponsored by Ile de France Cheese, Rösle, Emile Henry, Rouxbe and ManPans. Check them out!
Spice Roasted Carrots
You can imagine this spice blend would be great with lots of vegetables but those with natural sweetness like carrots and sweet potatoes are a natural fit. Try roasting halved onions too, or cauliflower florets. Depending on the size of your vegetables, watch the roasting time and toss them once during cooking.
1 large bunch of fresh carrots, tops still attached
2 tbsp fruity extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp baharat spice blend (or more if you like)
1 tsp kosher salt
1/8-1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (add only if your spice blend does not already contain cayenne, check the label)
Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
Prepare carrots by chopping off the leafy tops and rinsing them well. (If you like, peel them, but it is not necessary.) If the carrots are medium-sized, chop them in half length-wise, but if they are large cut them into length-wise quarters. If they are really long, cut them in half width-wise as well.
Next, make the glaze by combining the remaining ingredients in a small bowl and whisking them together well.
On a rimmed baking sheet, spread carrots evenly, then drizzle with the spice glaze. Using your hands or tongs, toss the carrots on the baking sheet until they are evenly coated with the glaze, then spread them out to roast them in a single layer. Roast them in a preheated oven for about 7-8 minutes, until they are fragrant and beginning to brown. Remove them from the oven, turn them over, and then return them to the oven to roast for an additional 7-8 minutes or until they are crispy and a dark caramel color. Remove from the oven and serve immediately.