Beets and carrots and herbs, oh my
Friends in warmer climates are telling me about their home-grown tomatoes. I put my fingers in my ears and console myself with the thought that our tomatoes will be along in their own good time – and that, meanwhile, there’s plenty of other flavorful produce showing up at the market.
This week I steered clear of the berries (well, almost. One pint of blueberries doesn’t count, does it?) in favor of vegetables: Carrots, shelling peas, cucumber, zucchini and a big bunch of mixed beets, red and golden and a pretty stripey red-and-white stripe variety.
I love root vegetables, and beets and carrots are never better than when they’re young and tender, full of sweet, earthy flavor. I love to roast them together, and just a little extra effort can make the difference between a nice mess of roasted vegetables and a terrific dish that highlights the subtle differences in the two vegetables flavors.
Beets, even young ones, take longer to roast than carrots. So why not take advantage of that fact and treat each vegetable a little differently, even when you roast them in the same pan?
Roasted beets and carrots with herbs
- A mixture of red and golden beets (I used six medium-sized beets), scribbed, trimmed and cut in half
- 1 Tbsp Olive oil
- Sea salt
- Fresh thyme, finely minced
- 4-5 medium-sized carrots, scrubbed, trimmed and cut in roughly equal-sized pieces
- 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 tsp maple syrup
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
Preheat oven to 400F.
In a bowl, toss beets with olive oil. Spoon them out, leaving excess oil in the bowl. Place in one layer at one end of a roasting pan and sprinkle lightly with salt; scatter a few sprigs of thyme among them. Place roasting pan in oven. 15 minutes into cooking, use a slotted spoon to turn the beets.
Meanwhile, add carrots, vinegar, maple syrup and cumin to the bowl and toss well.
When the beets have been in the oven 30 minutes, add the carrots at the other end of the pan. Continue roasting for 15-20 minutes more, stirring once to turn, until tender and lightly caramelized.
Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly so you can slip the skins off the beets without burning yourself. Serve warm as a side dish, or, as I did, allow the vegetables to cool to room temperature, slice them into bite-sized pieces and serve them on a bed of lettuce with a little blue cheese, some toasted hazlenuts and a light vinaigrette incorporating a touch more thyme.
If you don’t have the time or energy to bother with roasting them, young beets and carrots are also splendid raw, grated or sliced paper-thin, and added to a salad or slaw – or just tossed with a little Meyer lemon juice, sprinkled lightly with salt and heaped on a plate as a crunchy, vivid savory.