I have become a carrot fiend in my old age. A couple of years ago, my husband and I had dinner at Gato, Bobby Flay's newest restaurant. One of the dishes revolved around charred carrots, which intrigued me. The charring added a new level of flavor to my favorite root vegetable, a little smoky, a lot of caramelization. I figured I could make them at home easily enough using the same technique I use for roasting peppers--put them directly on a gas burner and turn them as they blacken. I like to use slender carrots with the tops for this dish, and then put some of the tops into a pesto to go with. I usually make another creamy sauce, like a flavored yogurt or a white bean aioli, too, for a bit of contrast. —theminx
small to medium carrots with tops, scrubbed but not peeled
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
loosely packed carrot tops, washed thoroughly and dried
To make carrots: Turn on a couple of the gas burners on your stove and place the carrots directly on the flame. Use tongs to turn and move them around occasionally to make sure the entire carrot gets mostly blackened. Once carrots are nicely charred (about 10 minutes), remove them to a plate and set aside.
Preheat oven to 400°F. Place charred carrots on a foil-lined baking sheet and drizzle with a little olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 15-20 minutes, turning once or twice during baking, until the carrots are tender.
To make pesto: Place carrot tops, mint, garlic, walnuts, and cheese, into a food processor with a few tablespoons of olive oil and blend until combined but still slightly chunky. Season with salt and set aside.
To make yogurt: Stir either harissa paste or harissa powder into yogurt to taste. Season with a squeeze of lemon juice and salt. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Serve carrots warm or at room temperature drizzled with the pesto and the yogurt.