Living in the Northeast, we experience pretty dramatic season changes: one day, the world will be green and warm; the next, bone-chilling with a rainbow of reds, oranges, and yellows. The change into fall can make a person think—about the new sweaters she must acquire, and the changeover from tomatoes to apples in her salads, and the looming task of having to wake up early so she can streak down to her car in the snow and start warming it up a half-hour before she leaves the house and why, oh, why did she not get around to installing that remote control car starter this summer, when she didn’t need to buy sweaters, because she is so not spending money on a remote control car starter now that she’s started dreaming of all the sweaters she needs.
It also makes her think about carrots. Along with all of the carrot’s rooted friends, carrots sustain many a Northeasterner through the cold, cruel winter, which is way, way too long, or or at least seems so in October when it’s 40 degrees and they’re already talking about snow. Carrots, with their bright colors and sweet flavor, don’t seem to understand how cold it is going to get, or how high propane heat costs right now. Carrots are in their own world, full of sunshine and cute carrot limbs.
I usually roast carrots alongside a few garlic cloves, with a liberal glug of olive oil, a good amount of pepper, and maybe some thyme. But this time I went down another path, toward a honey balsamic glaze that, caramelized and a little tart, amplifies all that sunny sweet carrot goodness.
The glaze isn’t as sweet as some honeyed glazes for carrots can be; the balsamic does a good job providing a foil and, luckily, the cheap balsamics will do this better, so don’t go wasting all your precious Balsamico Tradizionale on this recipe. Instead of the usual thyme, I used micro opal basil, a specialty herb from one of my favorite people, but regular basil or—even better—tarragon would work here, and parsley would do the trick in a pinch. Stuck inside because of the freezing rain this weekend, I’ll at least be thinking about herbs and carrots.
Honey-balsamic Glazed Carrots
2-3 pounds carrots, peeled and quartered lenghthwise
olive oil, salt, pepper
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoon butter
Preheat oven to 350F. Add carrots to a roasting pan and coat with a bit of olive oil, then season with salt and pepper. Roast in oven, stirring the carrots every so often, for about 45 minutes, give or take depending on how large your carrots are, or until they are tender and have browned and caramelized. (This can be done a few hours ahead of time.)
Heat honey and balsamic in a small sauce pan until combined. Whisk in the butter and season with a touch of salt and pepper. Taste to see if it is too tart, or too sweet, and add more butter if you need to mellow out the flavor.
Toss carrots in the glaze and if the carrots have gone cold, reheat in the oven for a few minutes, watching that you don’t burn everything, before serving. Garnish with herbs.