Roasted rainbow carrots with creamed honey and yogurt dressing

This time of year, I always struggle with vegetables.

I started missing summer produce as soon as the last farmer's market closed in September. I easily tire of onions, potatoes, and squash. This week, however, just when I thought I couldn't eat another root vegetable, creamed honey made its first appearance in my life and offered a boost of inspiration.

Sometimes it's a creative restaurant chef that transforms an ordinary dish into something exciting and new. Sometimes it's a beautifully-illustrated cookbook. Other times it's good company that makes all the difference. Inspiration can come from a vast array of sources, but when it shows up, it needs to be savored. It's usually delicious.

Here's to finding new recipes to get us through these winter months.
Did you know that the color of the first cultivated carrot was not the familiar orange hue we most commonly see in supermarkets, but a brilliant purple?

In fact, orange carrots did not exist until a plant breeder crossed a yellow African carrot with a red Dutch carrot about 400 years ago. That's right - orange carrots were not the first, second, third, or even fourth color of carrot. Red, yellow, purple, and white were the originals.

It's really too bad that carrots were forced away from their purple roots (see what I did there?). A general rule in nutrition is that the more brilliant the color, the more nutritious the plant. When the ambitious plant breeders revolutionized the carrot world with a popular new color, they unknowingly reduced some important vitamins and minerals in their beloved vegetable: when the purple color was stripped away, so were some disease-fighting phytonutrients.

Let's not rip on these sweet, orange veggies too much though; a carrot - regardless of color - is still highly nutritious. They are high in fiber and packed full of vitamin A. Do be cautious in how you eat them, though, if you want to reap their full benefits. Skip the baby carrots that have been trimmed of their vitamin-dense skins and opt for the thoroughly-washed, whole version. Cut them into strips yourself for easy dipping and snacking.

Raw carrots make a great snack, but don't underestimate what a little heat can do. Light steaming allows all the good nutrients to be retained while making the beta-carotene more easily digestible and the flavor slightly sweeter. Talk about a win-win.

Do your body and your taste buds a favor by branching out from our standard orange carrot and seeking out other, brightly colored varieties. Upscale grocery stores with a good produce section and local winter farmer's markets are great places to start.
Rainbow carrots belong in the Gorgeous Vegetable Hall of Fame. It's a thing.
Roasted rainbow carrots with creamed honey and yogurt dressing
Inspired by Mr. Wilkinson's Favourite Vegetables
Serves 4

1/4 cup yogurt
2 teaspoons creamed honey (recipe in step 1 below)
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons almond milk
10 rainbow carrots, cleaned and left unpeeled
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons sliced almonds, toasted
  1. To cream honey, combine a 1:1 ratio of liquid honey to crystallized honey in the bowl of a stand mixer. Whip on medium-low speed for 20 minutes, and watch the honey transform into a creamy, pale spread. Measure out 2 teaspoons for this recipe, and seal the rest in an airtight container. It's fabulous on warm, homemade bread.
  2. Preheat oven to 425F.
  3. To make the yogurt sauce, combine yogurt, creamed honey, balsamic vinegar, milk, and a pinch of salt in a small bowl and whisk thoroughly. The sauce should have a beautiful almond color and the texture should be similar to a slightly runny yogurt. Taste for proper balance of flavors, and adjust honey, yogurt, and salt as needed. Set aside.
  4. Slice the carrots in half lengthwise. Arrange on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, and season lightly with salt and pepper. Toss to coat the carrots with oil. Bake for 20 minutes, turning halfway through the baking time for even caramelization. 
  5. Plate the carrots, drizzle with yogurt sauce, and garnish with toasted almond slices. Especially delicious served atop bitter salad greens next to a savory roasted chicken

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