IF IT’S A VEGETABLE, I’ve charred it. Browning fruits or vegetables over high heat develops both bitter and sweet notes and creates texture. Charring is kind of like building an oversize grill mark on the surface of a vegetable or fruit. For the carrots in this dish, it’s the first step toward transforming a mundane root into something meaty. I might even call the whole thing seductive once it’s bathed in browned butter, apples, pine nuts, and thyme.
scallion bottoms, white part only, sliced into 1/8-inch-thick rounds
sprigs thyme, picked
large crisp eating apple, cut into 1/2-inch dice
Preheat your oven to 300° F. In a 12-inch cast-iron skillet, heat the vegetable oil over medium-high heat. In a small bowl, mix 1/2 teaspoon salt, coriander, and fennel. Toss the mixture together with the carrots. Place the carrots in a single layer in your preheated pan and begin charring them on all sides. This will take about 8 minutes.
Transfer the pan to your oven and roast for 50 minutes. The carrots should be a dark caramelized brown on all sides and should pierce easily with a knife when they’re done.
Just before you bring the carrots out of the oven, heat the butter in an 8- to 10- inch sauté pan till it starts to take on a little color. Add the pine nuts, scallions, thyme, and chili flakes and continue cooking till the pine nuts are toasted and the butter is brown and nutty-smelling. Add the apples, remaining ½ teaspoon salt, and the lemon juice and cook an additional 45 seconds. The apples will absorb most of the liquid, but you should have a tablespoon or two of vinaigrette visible in the pan.
Spoon the apples, pine nuts, and all their liquid over the carrots. Serve warm.