It is no small irony that I suddenly find it difficult to find intriguing ways to incorporate vegetables into the evening meal. I, the woman who learned to cook when she was not just a vegetarian, but a VEGAN, is experiencing a vegetable block. I find respite from time to time at the Union Square farmer's market, where the variety of fresh, colorful, unexpected vegetable matter is at times nothing short of overwhelming, and has been known to rekindle long-dormant love affairs with vegetables that have for one reason or another fallen out of my favor. For example: I hold the farmer's market personally responsible for my discovery of what might be my new favorite vegetable side dish, spicy maple-glazed roast carrots.
Prior to our chance reunion at the market, carrots and I had been on the outs for some time; I had been finding the gigantic, luridly orange specimens available in my neighborhood a bit...shall we say...disappointing. Tough, bland, resistant to softening when cooked and requiring entirely too much chewing, they were everything that was wrong with the vegetable kingdom. I was so scarred, I had no intention of even looking at carrots; I certainly wasn't anticipating falling head over heels in love with the tiniest, most elegant, most alluring carrots I could ever imagine.
Had I not gone to the market that day, I might never have attempted this dish. But, you know. Love is funny, and fortuitous. I found myself trundling home with a pound and a half of delicious carrots, a small jug of maple syrup, and a dream. I think this dish would be an excellent addition to the Thanksgiving table--it's earthy, sweet, autumnal, and if the carrots are young enough you don't even have to peel them (and I am all for any recipe that means I don't have to peel the root vegetables)!
Spicy maple-glazed roast carrots
1 lb of the youngest, tenderest, most slender carrots you can find, greens trimmed
½ c pure maple syrup
1 tsp ras-al-hanout* (you can also substitute garam masala if need be)
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- In a shallow roasting dish, spread out your carrots, drizzled with olive oil and salt. Toss to coat. Roast for about 20 minutes, or until just tender.
- Meanwhile, make the glaze by combining the maple syrup with the ras-al-hanout.
- Remove the carrots from the oven; baste liberally with about half the glaze; put it back in the oven for another twenty minutes (basting again once or twice during this time).
- At this point, the carrots should be quite tender and delicious; give them a quick blast under the broiler to caramelize the glaze—be very careful not to let the glaze burn!
*Ras-al-hanout is a middle eastern spice blend which is jokingly said to translate to "everything but the kitchen sink." Most purveyors are tremendously secretive about their blends, and no two are alike. I'm partial to the blend from the Formaggio Kitchen; I get it at the Essex street market, but if you're not in New York, you can get it here.