Today's recipe for the monthly Recipe Redux I am a part of is based on a story of redemption. The redemption of carrots in the ever adventurous life of my taste buds. For about 25 years of my life, the mere thought of carrots made me shudder. I hated them as a kid. In fact, I have vivid recollections of gagging on them while trying to sneak bites of mushy steamed or glazed carrots down my throat. Raw carrots were just as bad as cooked. I could not tolerate them in any way, shape or form.
Fast forward to my early 20's - carrots are now tolerated diced into small pieces as part of a soup, stew, or slow cooker meal. Maybe in an Asian stir fry or lettuce wrap situation, but only if sliced very thin and the crunch factor has been maintained. I'm 28 now and just begun to like carrots of the roasted variety. Dice em' up and roast on a pan with a combo of butternut squash, sweet potato, and turnips and I can barely tell which is which. But hardly do I ever let carrots be the solo start of a side dish on my table. Until today.
I have the Recipe Redux to thank for the change of heart in this former carrot hater. This month, reduxers were challenged to post a dish that featured subtle notes of smoke and spice. The harissa paste that I finally found on a recent foodie binge/shopping trip in Dallas was the first thing that came to mind when I read the words smoke + spice.
If you are now scratching your head and thinking "harissawha??," I will now relieve your curiosity and tell you that harissa is essentially the Middle East's version of hot sauce. It's pretty easy to find in the ethnic section of well-stocked grocery stores and specialty food stores. However, if you are like me and had to make a trip to a rather large and culinarily-diverse city to get some, rest assured because the world wide web is full of recipes for making your own. Trust me, if my mom in the twenty-something thousand census city of Christiansburg, VA can find the ingredients to make her own, then you probably can too. Try this recipe's version.
This smokey hot condiment literally made my carrots taste like they had been slow-roasting over and open fire all day. And the sweet maple glaze combined with the caramelized natural sugar of the carrots - don't even get me started! It was all I could do to stop eating them so I could save some for Ryan's dinner tonight! I embellished these a little more as they came steaming hot out of the oven by sprinkling them ever so slightly with smoked sea salt, a fresh squeeze of lemon juice, and a few dill fronds for color. Dee-lish-shus ya'll.
Harissa and Maple Roasted Carrots
- 1 pound small to medium-sized carrots washed, ends trimmed, and halved lengthwise
- 1 small clove of garlic
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon harissa
- For serving optional:
- ¼ teaspoon smoked sea salt
- Fresh lemon wedges
- Fresh dill fronds
- Preheat oven to 425. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil or parchment paper. Place the prepared carrot halves on the baking sheet and set aside.
- Using a microplane or fine grater, finely grate the garlic clove into a small bowl. Add the cumin, oil, maple syrup, and harissa. Stir together to combine.
- Pour the prepared glaze over the carrots and toss to evenly coat them. Roast in the oven for 20-35 minutes or until caramelized and tender. Flip the carrots halfway through roasting.
- Serve carrots hot out of the oven. Garnish with a sprinkle of smoked sea salt, fresh dill fronds, and a sprinkle of lemon juice.
[inlinkz_linkup id=480237 mode=1]