I’m not going to lie, baby carrots are not necessarily easy to find, but they definitely visually transform this dish into something special. I also tried this with a Regular Ol Bag o Carrots and I’m happy to say it works just as well.
Carrots and chilis actually go really well together. I never would have believed this if I heard it before I moved to Los Angeles and found out what real Mexican food tastes like. You can find spicy pickled carrots with onions and jalapeño peppers in Mexican cuisine, fermented purple or black carrots with chili powder in a Pakistani and North Indian drink called kanji, or in Bahn Mi sandwiches, which often have sliced jalapeños along with pickled julienned carrots and daikon.
Though not often combined, this roasted carrot recipe also has maple syrup. Carrots go really well with sugars especially brown sugar. I chose maple syrup because it can be similar in flavor but it’s a little more pronounced, which helps it stand up against the chili paste and lemon. If you substitute brown sugar, you’ll want more time uncovered so you can develop good caramelization.
The only downside to this dish is that it goes too fast! I found myself standing at the stove, eating these with my fingers. A little while later, I found someone else doing the same thing. I’d say that’s a sign of a good dish.
Maple Harissa Roasted Carrots
- 1 pound carrots
- 2 T Extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp Harissa*
- 2 tsp Maple syrup
- 1 tsp Kosher salt (use 3/4 if you’re using table salt)
- 1/8 tsp Black pepper
- 1/2 Lemon, zested, then juiced
Yield: 4 servings
* Harissa is an North African chili paste condiment typically made with chilies, caraway seeds, coriander, cardamom, and garlic. I’d suggest trying your local international market or buying it on Amazon, otherwise you can substitute Chinese garlic chili paste or Turkish chili paste (Ari biber). These are typically weaker than Harissa, so if you want this dish to pack a punch, increase to 2 tsp.
Let’s chat carrots:
If you’re using baby carrots with the stem on, you just need to trim the tops off. If you leave a little stem, you can use it to pick them up with your fingers. Word of caution, you may not have many left by the time you get to the table.
If you using large carrots, you’ll want to peel the skin off, chop them in half lengthwise, then chop them into sticks. You want them to be roughly the same size so they’re done cooking at the same time. This may mean the top half of the carrot is chopped into quarters (four sticks) while the bottom half is only cut in half (two sticks).
- Preheat your oven to 350. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and get another sheet of aluminum foil ready to cover the carrots.
- In a shallow container, toss everything together except the lemon. Spread out on the sheet pan. If your doubling the recipe, you may want to use two sheet pans to get better browning.
- Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the aluminum foil, stir, and continue to bake uncovered until fork tender and golden brown.
- Serve the roasted carrots with the zest from the lemon and a little spritz of freshly squeezed lemon juice to taste.