Occasionally my mother’s teachings on moderation are forgotten and I become a pig. There aren’t many foods with that kind of power over me. There’s absolutely nothing virtuous about the fact that it’s not Oreos or potato chips…they simply don’t have my number. But here is one that does. To my mind’s mouth, this is a flavor combination made in heaven. I’m not asking for sympathy, but it’s not easy keeping enough carrots on hand to feed this crazy addiction.
Nothing could be simpler. No recipe required. Pluck from the ground (if you’re so lucky) or buy from the market the best looking fresh young, slender carrots you can find. Seeing their green tops looking fresh and perky lets you know these carrots have not been sitting in a cooler or in open bins overly long, losing their crispness, their nutritional value or their juicy sweetness. (I’d avoid cellophane-wrapped carrots for this preparation if you can.)
Remove their tops, leaving about an inch or so. This will serve as a little handle if you choose to forget your manners as I sometimes do. You can peel them if you want, but with these young carrots, so newly-plucked from the ground, it’s not necessary. Simply run them under cold water and scrub them well with a vegetable brush, paying close attention to where the carrot meets the green. Roll them in a towel to dry them.
If your carrots are a little wider than “slender” you can slice them lengthwise.
Lie them on a baking sheet (lining with parchment paper will help greatly in the clean-up afterwards.) Drizzle with enough olive oil to coat as you roll them in it. Scatter quite liberally with slightly crushed cumin seeds. (1½ to 2 teaspoons per bunch is about right.) Sprinkle coarse sea salt over all. A few good grinds of pepper.
Place in a preheated 400°F (200°C) oven and roast for about 30 to 40 minutes, depending on thickness. The skinny tips will get very browned. The sweet juices will have caramelized. The cumin will turn into crispy little bits of the most carrot-complimenting flavor, and the carrots themselves will practically melt in your mouth. These have a rustic, as opposed to polished, charm about them. If you’re looking for something highly refined, this might not be it. But if you’re looking for one of the best-tasting carrots your mouth has known, this one’s bound to be in the running.
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Here’s all you’ll need for
Cumin-Roasted Young Carrots
1 bunch young slender carrots
extra virgin olive oil, up to a couple tablespoons
2 teaspoons cumin seed (crushed slightly)
coarse sea salt (Fleur de Sel, Maldon, etc.)
coarsely ground fresh pepper
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