Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Carrot Experiment

My friend learned that carrots were a super vegetable. (Indeed they are. You can read the raves here.) And so she ate, and ate, and ate them. Until she turned orange. It is possible to eat too much of a good thing.

The six year olds were at the house yesterday and I had an experiment ready for them. I wondered if texture influenced taste in a six year old. Sure enough.

The shredded carrots got one vote and were eaten up.

The carrot coins were a bust. I ate those myself.

The carrot sticks were the winner, with two votes. They quickly disappeared.

Then I poured three shot glasses of carrot juice. Just the right size I thought for the second part of the experiment. What would these apple juice drinking kids think of carrot juice? I introduced the carrot juice as a sweet drink. I didn't pretend it was anything but carrot juice. They sipped. They shook their heads and handed it back to me. Too weird.

Why weren't they impressed with the color? The color alone calls "try me." That's what I love most about cooking with carrots. They add color and sweetness to the meal.

Savory Roasted Carrots

This recipe takes the lowly carrot from it's picnic vegetable tray, child's lunch box staple, root vegetable status and elevates it to elegance. While roasting in the oven, the house will fill with the combined sharp fragrance of garlic, the musty smell of thyme and the sweetness of carrots, calling your family to the table. Open the windows, let the neighbors know there's something special going on at your house tonight.

1 1/2 pounds of organic carrots, scrubbed
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper
10 or more cloves of garlic, peeled and left whole
several sprigs fresh thyme
2-6 tablespoons water
fresh thyme leaves for garnish

While you scrub the carrots, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Line the carrots up in a large baking dish. Drizzle the olive oil over the carrots and shake the pan back and forth, rolling the carrots until they are covered in oil. Add the garlic cloves, the thyme sprigs and season with salt and pepper. Now add about 2 tablespoons of water.

Cover the dish with aluminum foil and put into the oven for about 25 minutes. Check the water level. If you don't have a good seal on the aluminum foil, you may have a dry pan. Add water, put carrots back into the oven and set the timer for another 10 minutes.  Take the aluminum foil off, and roast in oven another 5-10 minutes to allow the carrots to brown up a little.

Transfer to a serving platter. Discard the thyme springs and garlic, drizzle any infused olive oil left on the bottom of the baking dish, over the carrots. Garnish with fresh thyme leaves. Season with salt and pepper.

The next time I make this dish, I am going to roast several heads of garlic at the same time. I think the flavors will compliment each other. Carrots don't get enough compliments.

The 6 year old I shared my dinner with was not crazy about these carrots. "They're OK", she said. She did love the way they were smelled while cooking. Maybe she didn't think they would taste so much like a carrot. I suspected that she would prefer raw carrot sticks and had some ready for her. She ate those right up.

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