Snow Day Carrots: Honey-Roasted with Tahini Yogurt & Cilantro

Carrots. As our synapses rapidly fire, word association leads us to thoughts about rabbits, bright colored root vegetables with accompanying green tops, and maybe even the texture associated with the word. I am always striving for ways for which to dress up carrots and make them more appealing, especially during the colder stretches of the year. One of the inherent strengths of the carrot is that they possess natural sugar, of which satiates and quells sugar cravings, when dressed up in the right manner.

Earlier this month, the Northeast was pummeled with inches upon inches of snowfall, leading to my first official snow day of the season. As a child, my recollection of snow day centers around that moment when your mom comes into your room and delivers some of the best news that a schoolkid’s ears can receive: “Honey, the school’s are closed – no school!”. Not having to wake up at the crack of dawn as a pre-teen or teenager is one of the finer things in life – or at least at that juncture in time. As an adult, the rare snow day produces more of one thing that adults don’t have enough of: time. Additional time for me equates to the pursuit of happiness through culinary exploits and musings. The carrot, our subject.

Since we are still at the height of roasting season, I handpicked Yotam Ottolengthi’s Honey Roasted Carrots with Tahini Yogurt recipe from Plenty More. Besides the fact that honey-roasted anything turns out well, I also happened to have all the necessary ingredients on hand (a small, but monumental victory). In a perfect world, I would have had multi-colored carrots on hand purely for their aesethic flair, but orange are classic and work just as well. Honey, coupled with a little kick (in this case: cumin + coriander), always yields such a great balance in flavor. I also find honey and harissa or red pepper flakes to be a really enticing flavor affinity, so I gravitate towards this match whenever possible. I used rosemary instead of thyme, but both are interchangeable and entirely welcome. Topped with coarsley chopped cilantro and paired with tahini yogurt, this is a sure bet during the dead of winter. An instant lift.

Honey-Roasted Carrots with Yogurt-Tahini Sauce & Cilantro
Recipe from Yotam Ottolengthi’s Plenty More
Serves 4

Tahini-yogurt sauce:
Scant 3 tbsp. tahini paste
2/3 c. plain Greek yogurt
2 tbsp. lemon juice
1 clove garlic,
Sea salt

Carrots:
Scant 3 tbsp. honey
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. coriander seeds, toasted and lightly crushed
1.5 tsp. cumin seeds, toasted and lightly crushed
3 thyme or rosemary sprigs
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
12 large carrots, peeled and each cut crosswise into two 2.5 in. batons
1.5 tbsp. cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped

Place all the ingredients for the tahini sauce in a bowl with a pinch of salt. Whisk together and set aside.

Place the honey, oil, coriander and cumin seeds, and thyme in a large bowl with 1 teaspoon salt and a good grind of black pepper. Add the carrots and mix well until coated, then spread them out on a large baking sheet and roast in the oven for 40 minutes, stirring gently once or twice, until cooked through and glazed.

Transfer the carrots to a large serving platter or individual plates. Serve warm or at room temperature, with a spoonful of sauce on top, scattered with the cilantro.

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