Often taken for granted, carrots are nutritious, versatile and always available. Eaten raw, used as lunch box filler, and for flavoring soups, stocks, and stews, humble carrots have much more to offer. With a high natural sugar content, roasting carrots brings out their wonderful sweetness and makes for an easy side dish to accompany meat and poultry.
You can find the usual orange carrots in every market, but venture to a farmers market and you might find carrots in shades of white, gold and purplish-red. When you combine the colors, your finished dish has extra eye appeal.
To prepare carrots for roasting, cut them into long, thin sticks, about 2 ½” – 3” long (6.5 – 7.5 cm) and about ½” wide (1.25 cm). For average size carrots, start by trimming the top and bottom, then cut them in either half or in thirds crosswise. Then cut those pieces into sticks. Toss with olive oil and plenty of chopped fresh thyme, add salt and pepper.
Roast carrots on a foil or parchment covered rimmed baking sheet until firm but tender. The edges will start to brown. Towards the end of roasting I’ll mix in a few finely minced garlic cloves and roast just a couple of minutes longer.
For extra fall flavor, toss the hot roasted carrots with a little real maple syrup before serving. A tablespoon or two is all you need.
High in water content, carrots will lose more than half of their weight when roasted, so don’t be surprised at the amount of raw carrots. When you buy carrots, be sure they are firm, not rubbery. I buy prefer to buy them with the greens still on.
Roasted Carrots with Thyme
- 2 pounds carrots, preferably organic
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 ½ tablespoons fresh chopped thyme
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoons ground black pepper
- 2-3 large garlic cloves, finely minced or put through a garlic press
- 1-2 tablespoons real maple syrup (optional for fall flavor)
- Trim tops and bottoms off the carrots and peel. Depending on the size, cut carrots in half or thirds across the width into about 2 ½” – 3” sections. Cut each piece in half lengthwise, then half again (quarters). If the carrots are really big, you may need to cut the pieces into thirds. The goal is long, thin strips, but not too thin or they may burn.
- Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees. Cover a half sheet rimmed baking pan with foil. Toss carrots with oil, salt, pepper and thyme. Spread evenly on the baking sheet in mostly a single layer.
- Roast until carrots are starting to turn brown at the edges; add minced garlic and roast just 2-3 minutes longer. In my convection oven, my carrots take about 20-25 minutes. Taste one and decide for yourself if you want them to roast a little longer, but don’t let them get shriveled up or burned.
Optional note for fall flavor: toss carrots just before serving with just a little real maple syrup. Grade B has the richest flavor.
More links for your information and fun reading
All about carrots, from About.com
Basic roast chicken breasts to go with your roast carrots
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