Sweet Roasted Roots with Carrot Top Gremolata

September 27, 2011
4 Ratings
  • Serves 4 as a side
Author Notes

I have roasted carrots with cinnamon before and enjoyed the contrast of sweet vegetable and warm spice. Adding roasted golden beets adds another layer of sweetness, while the carrot top gremolata, bright from a healthy splash of sherry vinegar, keeps you going back for more. Since the vegetables are young and tender, you can keep things rustic and choose not to peel them, or peel both for a more elegant, aesthetically vibrant presentation. —gingerroot

What You'll Need
  • For Sweet Roasted Roots
  • 9-10 ounces organic golden baby beets (about 1-2 inches in diameter), trimmed, leaving 1 inch of stems attached (reserve greens for another use)
  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 small pinches kosher salt
  • 9-10 ounces organic young carrots with tops (I used a mix of purple and orange)
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 tablespoon fresh tangerine or orange juice (from one or two juicy wedges)
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole cumin seed
  • 1/2 teaspoon Saigon cinnamon
  • Sprinkle of red pepper flakes
  • 1 anchovy fillet (packed in oil)
  • 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  • For Carrot Top Gremolata
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped feathery greens from carrot tops, main stem removed (from about 8 stems)
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 teaspoon Meyer lemon zest
  • 2 teaspoons sherry vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Thoroughly scrub beets and carrots with a stiff vegetable brush. Set carrots aside.
  3. Arrange beets in a ceramic baking dish slightly larger than sum of beets. Add olive oil and salt; coat by turning beets with your fingers. Cover dish tightly with a piece of foil. Roast until beets are tender and a knife slips out easily when pierced, about 25-30 minutes.
  4. While your beets are roasting, make your spice paste by combining cumin seed, cinnamon, red pepper flakes in a large mortar. Begin to grind spices with pestle; once seeds are crushed, add anchovy and olive oil and continue grinding until you have a thick paste.
  5. Transfer beets to a bowl to cool. Add water and citrus juice to hot baking dish to deglaze, stirring up the dark caramelized beet juices that have dried to the side. Add scrubbed carrots and spice paste, thoroughly stirring to coat. Replace tight foil top and roast until tender, 15-20 minutes.
  6. While carrots are roasting, make your gremolata by combining all the ingredients in a small bowl. Stir well to combine, tasting to adjust seasonings. Set aside until ready to serve.
  7. Trim beet tops and bottoms and slip from their skins. Halve the smallest beets and quarter the largest ones. When carrots are finished roasting, add beets to the dish, stir to combine and arrange on a serving platter. Spoon carrot top gremolata all over the roasted roots and serve. Enjoy warm or at room temperature.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Hilarybee
  • luvcookbooks
  • TheWimpyVegetarian
  • EmilyC
  • mrslarkin

Recipe by: gingerroot

My most vivid childhood memories have to do with family and food. As a kid, I had the good fortune of having a mom who always encouraged trying new things, and two grandmothers who invited me into their kitchens at a young age. I enjoy cooking for the joy it brings me - sharing food with loved ones - and as a stress release. I turn to it equally during good times and bad. Now that I have two young children, I try to be conscientious about what we cook and eat. Right about the time I joined food52, I planted my first raised bed garden and joined a CSA; between the two I try to cook as sustainably and organically as I can. Although I'm usually cooking alone, my children are my favorite kitchen companions and I love cooking with them. I hope when they are grown they will look back fondly at our time spent in the kitchen, as they teach their loved ones about food-love. Best of all, after years on the mainland for college and graduate school, I get to eat and cook and raise my children in my hometown of Honolulu, HI. When I'm not cooking, I am helping others grow their own organic food or teaching schoolchildren about art.

31 Reviews

Hilarybee October 3, 2011
I commented on the post about carrot top pesto with my husband's experience. I made a carrot top vinaigrette, using very little greens- only the top greens of two very small carrots, no stem. They were organic carrots, locally grown by a farmer that I trust and am very good friends with.

I poisoned my husband and he had to go to the emergency room and get his stomach pumped. I will never make carrot tops again. They do contain a toxic alkaloid- and not all alkaloids are created equal. Some people can handle it, others cannot. I think most will be fine, but knowing how sick my husband became, I won't risk it again.

I would definitely make this recipe, subbing a different bitter green- maybe arugula.
gingerroot October 3, 2011
Thanks for your comment and for sharing your husband's experience. Yikes!

You could also just sub Italian parsley, which is what it reminded me of, although I only thought of adding that to my recipe after the deadline. I will definitely add it in once I can edit again.

If you ever try this, sans-carrot tops, I'd love to hear your thoughts about it.
Hilarybee October 4, 2011
Gingerroot, I'll definitely try it with Italian parsley! I should have thought of that since they are in the same family. I'll let you know.

I also thought about maybe fennel tops or mild celery greens.
luvcookbooks September 30, 2011
There was a food pickle about carrot tops that concluded they were inedible-- is it possible to add the link to this recipe to the food pickle? This is a delicious looking recipe ...
gingerroot September 30, 2011
Thank you, luvcookbooks! I'll have to look up that foodpickle now...

This is the first time I've used carrot tops and really liked them. I'm not sure, but it may be because I did not use the stem (only the feathery delicate leaves), which may have contributed to an overwhelming grassy bitter taste before.
hardlikearmour September 30, 2011
There are lots of recipes out there that use carrot greens. While they may be mildly toxic, I can't imagine that the 3/4 teaspoon per serving would be a problem, unless someone had a bizarre allergy! Caffeine & theobromine are both alkaloids (the type of toxin possibly in carrot tops) which are consumed daily in coffee, tea, and chocolate the world over. Also Harold McGee claims carrot greens are not toxic, and I tend to believe him. Plus if they were highly poisonous the grocery stores would not sell carrots with the tops attached due to the risk of lawsuits!
TheWimpyVegetarian September 30, 2011
All excellent points, and Harold McGee definitely knows his stuff!
luvcookbooks September 30, 2011

This is the food pickle. I believe "inedible" was an aesthetic rather than a toxologic judgment.
hardlikearmour September 30, 2011
LOL! I totally took it to mean toxic, as there is some disagreement about it floating around in the ether.
TheWimpyVegetarian September 30, 2011
LOL here too! Thanks for all the information - both of you!!
gingerroot September 30, 2011
Wow, there is definitely a healthy debate about whether or not carrot tops are edible/poisonous (same family as fennel, cilantro, parsnip, cumin, celery, parsley...and hemlock). Like with everything else that we put in our mouths, it is ultimately our own decision and for me, with carrot tops, proper washing, using organic, and moderation are key (plus a little research).

If you try this luvcookbooks, I'd love to hear your thoughts about it.
TheWimpyVegetarian September 27, 2011
I love the combination of flavors and really love the presentation of this, gingerroot! How does Saigon cinnamon differ from regular run-of-the-mill?
gingerroot September 27, 2011
Thank you, ChezSuzanne! You know, Saigon cinnamon is what I always have on hand - it is sweet and earthy, but also a little spicier than regular ground cinnamon that I've had. Here is a foodpickle post with more information about it:

That said, for this recipe, since there is just 1/2 t, if you only have regular cinnamon, I'm sure it would work fine.
TheWimpyVegetarian September 28, 2011
Thanks for the link! I know it's not enough in the recipe to make a difference - I was more curious than anything else. Saved this one to make this fall for sure!!
gingerroot September 28, 2011
Thanks! I'd love to hear your thoughts if you try it.
EmilyC September 27, 2011
This is just beautiful, with so many thoughtful details, gingerroot! You know, I love roasted carrots, and I love roasted beets, but I've never had the two together. This is the way I want to try them. Saved!
gingerroot September 28, 2011
Wow, thank you for such a lovely comment, EmilyC! I'd love to know what you think if you try it.
mrslarkin September 27, 2011
These look and sound yummy! Thanks for the recipe, gingerroot!
gingerroot September 28, 2011
Thanks, mrslarkin! You're welcome. : )
wssmom September 27, 2011
How incredibly beautiful and beautiful-sounding!!
gingerroot September 28, 2011
Thanks, wssmom! That means a lot coming from a cook I admire.
cookinginvictoria September 27, 2011
What a stunning recipe, gingerroot! Love the idea of the carrot top gremolata. I always think that it's such a shame that carrot tops are used only for stock or relegated to the compost. And the cumin, cinnamon, anchovy, and orange flavors sound so warm and vibrant. Yum!
gingerroot September 27, 2011
Thank you so much, cookinginvictoria! My past attempts using carrot tops have always tasted quite green and grassy (I realize parsley is not that different - I guess I just like the taste of parsley?). I like the piquant punch from the gremolata against the earthy flavors of the roasted vegetables.
hardlikearmour September 27, 2011
I really love the addition of the gremolata. It's a nice bright counterpoint to the earthy-spicy-sweet root veggies. Gorgeous!
gingerroot September 27, 2011
Thank you, hardlikearmour!! I totally agree.
Midge September 27, 2011
Wow, the spice mix and anchovy are so intriguing and I love that you use the carrot tops. Sounds incredibly tasty!
gingerroot September 27, 2011
Thanks, Midge! The anchovy melts into the mix and adds a depth of flavor that pairs well with the gremolata ingredients. I'm usually disappointed with my attempts to incorporate carrot tops - this is the first time I'm really happy with the outcome.
TiggyBee September 27, 2011
Wow, gingerroot! This looks amazing...your recipes always are. I just made your csa radish-potato soup again and everyone loved it!! xx
gingerroot September 27, 2011
Thanks so much, TiggyBee! I'm so glad you are still making and enjoying my soup - you've made my day! xx
Niknud September 27, 2011
Oh yum. Love the cinnamon-cumin combo. I have had carrots prepared similarly to this and have always cleaned the plate - the gremolata just ups the ante!
gingerroot September 27, 2011
Thanks, Niknud! I really love the contrast of the sweet-earthy root veggies with the bright, piquant gremolata - the sherry sparkles on your palate.