In my experience growing up, carrots were served two ways: raw, sliced and served on a green salad, or cut into chunks and boiled to hospital food mush. I loved the former, but despised the latter. And so for years, I figured all forms of cooked carrots were, well, just gross.
Then along came roasting, or at least along came my discovery of it. Roasting any vegetable is one of the greatest ways to bring out its earthy sweetness, but roasting carrots is especially effective. Carrots go from being a pleasantly flavorful raw snack, to being a deeply sweet and elegant veggie side dish.
There is, however, a trick to getting roasted carrots right. Undercook them, and the texture is tough and dense. Overcook them, and they’re dry and wrinkled. The secret is to soften the carrots slightly by boiling them briefly before roasting. The texture will be firm-tender with just the right amount of caramelization on the outside.
Roasted Fresh Carrots and Fennel
2 pounds fresh unpeeled carrots, washed, ends trimmed
2 large fresh fennel bulbs, plus fronds for garnish
¼ cup olive oil, plus extra for finishing
Herbs of your choice for garnish
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. It is not necessary to peel the carrots. Slice the carrots lengthwise, then cut in half across the middle. If the carrots are small, leave them whole. Place in boiling water for 5 minutes. Drain and pat dry. Trim the fennel bulbs into vertical slices. Place the carrots and fennel slices together on a cookie sheet and toss evenly with olive oil. Sprinkle with kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper. Roast for 30 minutes.
Finish with a drizzle of olive oil and chopped fennel fronds or other herbs, such as parsley, chives or basil.
Maggie Heyn Richardson is a regular 225 contributor and the creator of Spatula Diaries. Reach her at hungryforlouisiana.com.