The best part of vegetable farming for me (outside of the abundant sunshine, happy customers, and super rewarding work) is definitely having unlimited access to all the vegetables I want, whenever I want, and not having to visit the grocery store for several weeks (or sometimes even a couple months) in the summer.
I particularly enjoy the way I can dream about food the entire time I’m out working in the fields, think of a dozen new recipes I want to make us for the week, and then easily grab some things from the cooler and head home to cook. It’s like having a farmers’ market in your backyard for six months’ straight. It’s hard not to fill all my time with cooking. But sometimes, that’s what happens, despite my best efforts.
This is what happened last week. After harvesting and bunching carrots for the third time this season, removing all the tiniest and cutest carrots each time (because we like to give our CSA members heftier bunches), I just could not resist any longer. I wanted to make a batch of perfect roasted carrots. I wanted to take these tiny little things and roast them whole. I wanted to roast them in bold, heavy flavors since to contrast their tenderness. And I desperately wanted to turn the stunning carrot greens into a sauce of some sort.
After our Wednesday CSA pack, I brought a whole bunch home, knowing generally what would be their fate. On Thursday, I was supposed to get work done. I was supposed to be running CSA lists for the next week, working on my grant project, and preparing for our hemp oil pre-order launch!
Instead, I found myself over the stove at 8 a.m. avoiding work and cooking carrots. The day devolved from there into further recipe testing and procrastinating on important things (which then took over my weekend), but I have no regrets. The beauty of this life is the food, and if I’m not playing and enjoying, then what really is the point?
The carrot recipe, to no great surprise, turned out perfectly. Whenever I create recipes from a place of pure creativity and inspiration, I never seem to be disappointed. It’s a great reminder that procrastination is always in my head. If I’m doing what feels right at that moment in time and operating in flow, everything still gets done and generally it turns out better. Even if it leads to me eating carrots for breakfast and sending emails for the better part of my weekend.
I hope you enjoy this lovely recipe. Its simplicity is its beauty. The ingredients are all very ordinary and yet, everything about the flavors sings. I love using a lot of butter when I cook carrots. It reminds me of the cook carrots of my childhood: steamed gently and then bathed in butter and caraway seeds on the side of whatever meat and potatoes dish we were devouring.
The carrots could be good enough after that first step of charring them lightly in butter, but finishing them in the oven adds an extra crispiness to their edges that I just adore. Adding maple and balsamic right at the end helps the butter transform into more than just butter, it morphs into a sticky sweet (still very rich) sauce that elegantly coats the charred carrots.
Again, you could stop here. These carrots are great. BUT if your carrots came with carrot tops, or if you have a bunch of parsley on your windowsill without any ideas, I highly encourage you to whip together a little green sauce to dollop on top or toss with the finished carrots. The green sauce has a bit of heat and zing that play off the decadent roasted carrots and balance them out. Plus, the chimichurri recipe below makes a good amount– enough for this recipe and a few other uses (we used ours in hummus bowls and on loaded nachos).
Happy August my friends. May your days be flowing and the food absolutely delicious.
BUTTER BALSAMIC ROASTED CARROTS WITH CARROT TOP CHIMICHURRI
Takes 30 minutes
Serves 2 as a side or 1 as a meal
2 bunches very small (almost baby) carrots or 1 large bunch carrots (ideally with greens)
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup Carrot Top Chimichurri (recipe below), optional
- Remove carrot tops and set to the side for Carrot Top Chimichurri. If using very small carrots, you can leave them whole and halve the ones that are more “small” then “very small” lengthwise. If using a larger bunch, halve small carrots lengthwise and/or quarter the largest ones. The smaller the better. We want these beauties to get very tender.
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
- Melt butter over medium heat in a large heavy skillet (cast-iron is preferable). Add carrots and season with salt. Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, until carrots are just beginning to char in places.
- Place in oven and roast for another 10 minutes, until carrots are very tender and charred in more places.
- Add maple syrup and balsamic. Toss to combine, making sure any juices that are collecting at the bottom of the pan are coating the carrots as best they can. Roast additional two minutes until sauce caramelizes.
- Serve carrots warm with chimichurri sauce.
Carrot Top Chimichurri:
1 cup finely chopped carrot tops*
3 garlic cloves, minced
5 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1-2 tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and stir to combine. This will make a little over a cup. You will only need 1/4 cup for this recipe. Save the rest for another use. It will last in your fridge for at least a week.
*Note: If you have fresh herbs on hand (particularly parsley, mint or chives), feel free to substitute some in for the carrot greens.