Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Roasted Baby Carrots

It's all about the vegetables today.

Those critical, often less flashy components of our diets, defined by Wikipedia (my bible) as "an edible plant or part of a plant other than a sweet fruit or seed."  If you've noticed these last few weeks, I've been writing up a lot of my very best vegetable recipes for your viewing and eating pleasure (scroll to the bottom of article for a list of recent vegetable recipes).  No, I'm not being paid off by the veggie lobby - in fact, I'm not even sure one exists.  Though we'd better off if it did, given that right now we have the Big Food lobby.

Rather vegetables are often neglected, often prepared poorly, or worse often forgotten all together.  But I believe these treasures should be celebrated.  Of course, a beautiful piece of milk-fed Heritage pork makes my heart go pitter-pat, but preparing meat and starches is more an exercise in replicating the proper technique.  I tend to treat proteins as if they were the side dish, and the vegetables the main course.

You see, in my cooking, the real creativity comes when I approach the vegetable and fruit components in my food.  They're the colors that shade my painting, the flavors that deepen my palate, and if you've ever seen me at a farmers market, then you know I go crazy for kale, loopy for leeks and batty for baby beets.

So in the service of our health (and in turn, our waistlines), I have vowed to arm you, my lovely divas, with an arsenal of fabulous vegetable recipes.  Today, I'm sharing a great way to prepare baby carrots.  These puppies are loaded with health benefits (rich in beta carotene, antioxidants, dietary fiber and minerals).  They're also available literally year round and inexpensive to procure.

For this recipe, I used organic heirloom varieties of baby carrots (yes, they come in a fabulous array of colors from blonde to orange to deep purple).  Heirloom connotes vegetables that were farmed during early human history, but were not adapted to large scale agriculture.  They're often higher in nutrients than the regular carrots that populate supermarkets.  I bought them at my farmers market with the greens still attached, so I had to trim them down.

At most grocery stores, baby carrots can be purchased already peeled and cleaned in neat, little bags, and those may be used in this recipe, too.  Just toss them into the roasting pan whole. Finally, you may use adult carrots, too.  They just may need a little longer cooking time.  Note that for this recipe, the carrots need not be peeled as their skins are tender.  Why discard a nice part of the veggie and create more work for yourself at the same time? 

Roasted Baby Carrots make a fabulous side dish to almost any meal or puree them with one garlic clove and vegetable stock to make a fabulous Roasted Carrot Soup.  Season with salt and pepper, heat over the stove top for ten minutes, drizzle with olive or walnut oil and serve.  This is also a great way to make use of leftover roasted carrots the next day.

Also, don't forget to click click click away on my blog Domestic Divas!  In conjunction with Blog Away Hunger, I'm donating 100% of my January ad revenue to the World Food Program's disaster relief efforts in Haiti.  So browse through my archives - the more you view, the more money gets donated.

Recent Vegetable Recipes
Baby Beets with Balsamic and Thyme
Broccoli with Garlic and Parmesan Reggiano
Delicata Squash with Basil, Pepitos & Goat Cheese
Kale with Currants and Pine Nuts

Roasted Baby Carrots
Serves 4 people
Cooking time: 20 minutes

3 cups baby carrots (about 1 bag)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons flat leaf parsley, chopped
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

If not already cleaned and bag, remove the carrot tops.  Cut them diagonally into about 1 inch slices. The goal is that all the baby carrots should be of similar size for even roasting.  If already cleaned and bagged, simply use them whole.  Note to keep the slices large as the carrots will shrink while cooking.

Place the carrots in a bowl and toss them with the olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Place them on a baking sheet and roast in the oven for 15-20 minutes.

Once tender, remove them from the oven.  Correct seasoning (salt and pepper) if needed.  Sprinkle with the chopped parsley.  Enjoy!

Source for Ingredients
organic heirloom baby carrots from Sage Mountain Farm (Hollywood Farmers Market)

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