[Photograph: J. Kenji López-Alt. Video: Serious Eats Video]
Carrots have a natural affinity for spices, or, at least, in my home they do. Before they go into the oven, I like to toss them with olive oil mixed with some variety of spice blend, whether it’s a chili powder (Japanese shichimi togarashi is great), a curry blend, or, in the case of the recipe here, harissa with a touch of cumin and black pepper. Afterward, I’ll toss them with an herb that meshes appropriately—cilantro goes well with harissa, as does a little pool of crème fraîche to keep things cool.
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Why It Works
- Parboiling skin-on carrots before roasting lets you soften them without them losing too much moisture and shriveling up.
- Keeping the peel intact tastes better and is less work.
- 2 pounds (900g) medium carrots, ends trimmed, quartered lengthwise and cut into 3-inch segments
- Kosher salt
- 1/4 cup (60ml) crème fraîche
- 2 tablespoons (30ml) harissa paste (see note)
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup (60ml) extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
Adjust oven rack to center position and preheat oven to 375°F. Place carrots in a large pot, cover with water, and season heavily with salt. Heat over high heat until boiling. Reduce to a simmer and cook until barely tender, about 5 minutes. Drain and allow to dry for 5 minutes. Set aside. Season crème fraîche with salt to taste and refrigerate until ready to use.
Combine harissa, cumin, black pepper, and olive oil in a large bowl. Season to taste with salt. Transfer half of mixture to small bowl and set aside. Add carrots to remaining mixture and toss to coat. Transfer to foil-lined rimmed baking sheet and spread out in an even layer. Roast until caramelized, about 40 minutes, turning once or twice during roasting. Transfer carrots to a large bowl and toss with cilantro.
Spread crème fraîche on serving platter. Top with carrots and drizzle with remaining harissa mixture. Serve immediately.
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