When San Francisco Bay-area chef Nik Sharma finds tender, young carrots in the local market, he concentrates their natural flavors by roasting them in a hot oven. “Carrots are sensational roasted because when charred, they become bittersweet,” he writes in his recent cookbook Season, which weaves flavors from a childhood spent in India and the United States into deceptively simple recipes.
The bittersweet taste of the roasted carrots is offset by Sharma’s mix of whole seeds, chili flakes, and dried seaweed. Inspired by the Japanese spice mix shichimi togarashi, it’s an infusion of umami flavor that gives the recipe remarkable depth. Early spring (it’s coming…promise!) is the perfect time to prepare this dish, which Sharma serves alongside lightly salted Greek yogurt and roasted fish—as well as glass of pinot gris or viognier. Try the Cave de Ribeauville Collection Pinot Gris from Alsace.
Roasted Young Carrots with Sesame, Chili, and Nori
Adapted from Nik Sharma’s “Season.”
“Because these carrots are young,” writes Sharma, “you really don’t need to peel them before cooking, but if you must, scrape the thin skin with a paring knife, so you remove less of the carrot. You can prepare the carrots and season them the night before. Then just stick them in the oven before you’re ready to serve.”
2 to 4 servings as a side
1 pound small young carrots
1 tablespoon chopped nori
1 tablespoon black sesame seeds
1 teaspoon white sesame seeds
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
1 teaspoon dried red chili flakes
1 teaspoon flaky sea salt, such as Maldon
2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Preheat the oven to 425°F [220°C].
Trim the tops of the carrots. Pull off any tiny roots that may be attached to the carrots and transfer the carrots to a baking sheet or roasting pan. Sprinkle the nori, sesame seeds, caraway, chili flakes, and salt over the carrots and drizzle with the olive oil. Roast the carrots, flipping occasionally, until they’re slightly charred and crispy on the ends, 25 to 30 minutes. Serve hot or warm.
Jen Rose Smith is a freelance writer and award-winning guidebook author whose work explores travel, adventure and food. She’s currently living on the road, with a mountainous 2018 itinerary that goes from the Andes of South America to the foothills of the Spanish Pyrenees. Read more of her work at jenrosesmith.com.