Salt-Baked Carrots and Beets

A few years ago we were playing around in the kitchen with salt-crusted whole fish. We made all sorts of salt crusts, some with herbs, some with scraps of ham. Somewhere along the way, I came up with the idea of cooking vegetables the same way. I remembered having tried a dish in Spain years ago called papas arrugadas, or “wrinkled potatoes,” and I seemed to recall the spuds having been baked in the oven on a bed of salt. This recipe for many-colored carrots and beets takes that idea and then does what I like to do—drops a bunch of flavor into the mix. The spices and herbs make these roots rock out.–Seamus Mullen

LC Roots Redux Note

Read the ingredient list and you’ll see that the requisite veggies are carrots and beets. And they work just dandy, turning almost as sweet as candy, though truth be told, you can easily tweak the ingredients, swapping in potatoes or turnips or just about any root. If using carrots, consider propelling them into author Seamus Mullen’s curiously complex-tasting yet easy-peasy Pickled Carrots.

Salt-Baked Carrots & Beets Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 10 M
  • 45 M
  • Makes enough to serve 4 as a nice side dish

Ingredients

  • 1 pound kosher salt
  • Zest of 1 lemon, preferably organic
  • 2 tablespoons pink peppercorns
  • 2 tablespoons black peppercorns
  • 2 branches fresh rosemary
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 bunch (3 or 4) slender carrots, preferably organic, any color, trimmed and scrubbed
  • 1 bunch (2 or 3) small beets, trimmed

Directions

  • 1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (176°C).
  • 2. In a large roasting pan, combine the kosher salt, lemon zest, pink and black peppercorns, rosemary, and thyme, mixing them thoroughly. Nestle the carrots and beets in the salt mixture, covering them completely with the salt. Bake until the veggies are tender throughout, 20 to 30 minutes, depending on the size of the vegetables.
  • 3. Remove the pan from the oven and let cool slightly. Excavate the carrots and beets. Scrape off the skins of the beets with a dish towel or the dull edge of a paring knife. Peel the carrots if you wish, although if you scrubbed them well prior to roasting, you can skip this step. Serve the vegetables hot, warm, or at room temperature or reserve them to use in another recipe calling for out-of-this-world vegetables.
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Testers Choice

Testers Choice
Testers Choice
Colleen Bloxham

Aug 13, 2012

The salt baking, which entailed fresh herbs from my garden, lemon peel, pink and black peppercorns, and salt, brought loads of flavor to the profile. I’d chosen both yellow and red carrots from the farmer’s market to bring some color and distinction to this dish. The recipe was dead easy, but removing the peels after they’d baked was a bit tricky. I found that letting them sit a little in the bowl while hot made them easier to peel.

Testers Choice
Elsa M. Jacobson

Aug 13, 2012

We had vegetables from our CSA and fresh rosemary and thyme from the garden. I salt-baked the carrots and the beets, then ate the delicious beets and used the carrots (not without some substantial taste testing first!) for the pickles. The salt mixture didn’t completely cover the vegetables at all, but the spices and herbs did contribute great flavor to the baked veggies. It was hard to scrape off the skin and I’d skip that step for the carrots in the future: presuming they’re organic, I’m fine with the peels on my carrots. Neither the dish towel nor the paring knife suggestion worked well for me. At this point, there were some tasty cooked vegetables.

Testers Choice
Joel Jenkins

Aug 13, 2012

A simple yet elegant way to prepare vegetables. If you don’t use the carrots and beets in the accompanying pickle recipe, you can always break the salt crust at the table to add flair to your presentation. I can’t wait to try this with potatoes! I used my instant-read thermometer to test for doneness, not by taking the temperature but by prodding and poking the vegetables so I didn’t disturb the salt crust; you could also use a bamboo skewer.

Comments
Comments
  1. Grace says:

    I’m curious to know if the vegetables could be peeled prior to baking them or would that infuse them with too much salt flavor?

    • Beth Price, LC Director of Recipe Testing says:

      Hi Grace, I worry that they may be a little too salty but you could certainly throw a few in for a side by side test (and please let us know how they turn out!)

  2. Tamara says:

    Hi, this may be a dumb question, but here goes: Can I save and re-use the salt? Freeze it and pull it out when I need it again?

    • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

      Tamara, that’s an excellent question. My only hesitation is that I think the aromatics will be far, far less potent the second time around. But I know, coarse salt costs a small sum. You know, why not try it? I suggest you add fresh aromatics to the salt—anywhere from half to the full amount. And let us know! (Clearly you would never want to save and reuse salt used to bake chicken or meat or fish….)

      • ruthie says:

        Thank you. That’s what I was just wondering.

        I haven’t tried this yet, but I’ve baked a good few beets, and I’m thinking there might be a few factors at work in the peeling issue: the beets are going to be thicker than most carrots, even small beets, so maybe they aren’t getting enough oven time to peel easily; the salt may be toughening the skins, shrinking them a bit so they adhere more to the beet.

        I’m going to try this maybe next week, and I’ll try doing the beets separately and longer than the carrots and see what happens with the peels. Because, really, beet skins are not something you want on your dinner plate. If I remember (mind like a sieve), I’ll post back if I had any better success getting the peels off.

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