An easy yet impressive vegetable dish!
Have you ever noticed that vegetables served in good restaurants usually look stunning and taste fantastic? I think that is because many chefs wisely treat their vegetables not just as ‘side dishes’ but instead consider them an essential component on the plate and even, in some cases, the star of the show. This year, I’m trying to take a little more time and care with vegetables to help them shine on my plates, and this carrot dish is a great example. I like to use French-cut carrots, which are small carrots that have been peeled and trimmed, with a cute little bit of green carrot top left on one end. You can now find these at many grocery stores and even big-box shops have them as well; uniformly sized regular carrots would work just fine too. The French cut beauties look absolutely fantastic when cooked but, more importantly, they also have great flavour, especially when roasted which promotes caramelization. I used mascarpone, which is mild-tasting Italian cream cheese, for the whipped deliciousness spread underneath the carrots, but you could mix regular cream cheese with the balsamic instead and it would be just as tasty.
- 1 pound (454 g) French cut carrots
- 1 – 2 tablespoons (15 – 30 mL) olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- 1 tablespoon (15 mL) honey
- 2 teaspoons (10 mL) Dijon mustard
- 1/3 cup (90 mL) mascarpone or cream cheese
- 2 tablespoons (30 mL) balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoons (30 mL) pistachios, shelled and chopped
- Preheat oven to 375F.
- Slice carrots in half lengthwise and place on a baking tray, cut sides facing up. Brush cut sides generously with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Carrots can be prepped to this point and covered with plastic wrap for up to 24 hours prior to cooking.
- Roast in preheated oven for 15 – 20 minutes, or until just beginning to feel tender when pierced with the tip of a sharp knife (if not using French cut carrots, note that larger carrots may need additional cooking time).
- Whisk together honey and Dijon. Brush over cut sides of carrots and roast about 10 minutes more, until tender and just beginning to turn brown in places.
- While carrots finish cooking, combine mascarpone and balsamic, stirring well so the mixture is evenly blended. Spread mascarpone mixture in a layer approximately 1/4 inch (.6 cm) thick down the centre of a serving platter (or place a dollop in the middle of four serving plates).
- Transfer cooked carrots to the platter, arranging nicely. Sprinkle with pistachios and serve warm.
Makes 4 servings.