Roasted carrots with allspice are an easy, unexpected, and, we dare say, essential side dish for winter. Put them on your table and we suspect everyone who tries them will agree…and ask for the recipe.
Best eaten the same day they’re cooked but can be served at room temperature, the sweetness and earthiness of carrots get a boost when they are roasted at high heat. Here we take toothy chunks of carrots, parboil them, fast-roast them in the oven with allspice, and finish them off with a garnish of minced preserved lemon and fresh garlic. Wait until a dish is fully cooked before adding a decisive seasoning like preserved lemon—it’s hard to go back. If preserved lemon isn’t to be had, plain grated lemon zest can be used. It’s not the same, but the dish will still be delicious.–Lynne Rossetto Kasper and Sally Swift
What Are Preserved Lemons?
Preserved lemons are just that–lemons preserved in salt. In a reversal of the usual use of citrus, the peel becomes tender enough to eat and the segments are typically discarded. They’re a Moroccan tradition that lacks nothing in terms of puckeriness and knows no borders in terms of culinary versatility. They’re a cinch to put up at home provided you have some lemons, a little salt, a jar, and five minutes of effort–well, five minutes of effort plus a month of patience. If you’re lacking any of the aforementioned elements–particularly the 30 days part–then simply pick up a jar of preserved lemons at the store. You can usually find them near the olives or the cheese. They’re pricey but well worth the investment.
Roasted Carrots with Allspice
- 3 pounds carrots cut on the diagonal into 2-inch (5-cm) chunks
- 2 to 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 to 1 teaspoon freshly ground allspice
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 4 large garlic cloves minced
- Peel of 2/3 to 1 whole Preserved Lemon inside pulp removed and discarded, peel rinsed under cold water and finely chopped
- Preheat the oven to 450°F (232°C).
- Bring 6 quarts of salted water to a boil. Add the carrots and cook for about 10 minutes or so, until nearly fork-tender but still have some firmness. Drain thoroughly.
- On a baking sheet, toss the carrots with enough oil to coat them generously, then toss them with the allspice and salt and pepper to taste. Roast for 20 to 25 minutes, shaking and turning often, until nicely seared and browned here and there.
- Remove the pan from the oven and while the carrots are still in it, add the garlic and lemon and toss to combine. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve hot or at room temperature.
CAN I MAKE ROASTED CARROTS IN ADVANCE?You can boil the carrots and set them aside to drain for up to several hours before sliding them into the oven. These roasted carrots are also quite nice when served warm, as opposed to hot from the oven, so if they need to linger on the counter a few minutes while the rest of dinner comes together before going from baking sheet to serving dish, all is not lost. In fact, nothing is lost.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
This roasted carrots with allspice recipe makes a very simple dish, perfect for a weeknight. The sweetness of carrots with the sour/salty preserved lemon paired very well. I started off with very light olive oil and allowed the carrots to roast. I added the extra-virgin olive oil, garlic, and preserved lemon rind towards the end of the cooking time.
Roasted carrots with allspice are wonderful. The spices and preserved lemon blend nicely with the sweetness of the carrots. This would make a wonderful Thanksgiving side dish. I’d make this again.
Spices are a beautiful thing, especially their ability to transform a simple veggie dish. In this case, the allspice lent an exotic, almost smoky flavor to the carrots while the preserved lemon added yet another layer of complexity. I left the carrots in their rustic, unpeeled state and loved that the big chunks worked perfectly as a side dish to my Moroccan roast chicken (another Leite’s recipe).
Next time, I probably wouldn’t parboil them, as I prefer the crispness that comes with roasting alone. And I also had a hard time getting the minced garlic and zest to stick to the carrots so I may add them while there is plenty of oil in the pan.
First, I was cooking for more than 20 hungry firefighters, so I increased the amount to 10 pounds of carrots and adjusted the other ingredients in corresponding amounts. Sampling the carrots after the allspice was added was a nice bonus for the cook. The aroma of the carrots roasting was very festive.
I diverted from the script slightly by adding the garlic prior to roasting. Again, the aroma was marvelous. I added the preserved lemon as prescribed. I ended up with two full trays of roasted carrots. On one tray, I squeezed less than half of a regular lemon over the top, then tossed the carrots lightly. Both trays were top drawer.
The first quote I heard from one happy diner was, “What’s with the carrots? These are the real deal!” The dish received many other compliments as well and there were no leftovers. They had fantastic flavor and texture, which is not always easy to do.
The recipe was easy to prepare, having few ingredients. At the size recommended in the recipe, I found that the carrots needed 15 minutes of cooking time in the boiling water. I found that after the recommended cooking time in the oven that the carrots were well cooked and tender, but had not browned to a huge extent. The result was a fragrant mix of carrot, lemon, and garlic, in which the garlic did not taste too raw. The allspice lent a subtle spiciness to the dish without being overpowering.
I’m not generally a fan of cooked carrots, and I feel that I’ve found a recipe that improves them significantly. My only criticism was that the three tablespoons of olive oil recommended left the carrots a bit too oily, and so I would recommend tossing the carrots in slightly less oil.
Three pounds of carrots sounds like a lot, but you really do need that much to serve this recipe to as many as six people. The rich citrusy flavor from the lemons really complements the sweetness of the carrots and allspice. The earthy, savory garlic flavor adds a nice contrasting element, but I’d add it (and the preserved lemon) to the pan about 10 minutes before the carrots are done — just to get a wee bit of the edge off the garlic (and to warm the lemon).
My preserved lemons didn’t seem that strong, so I had no problem using closer to the peel of one whole lemon. I used the pulp in a marinade for some lamb we had later. I wonder if adding the allspice nearer to the end, along with the garlic and lemon would heighten its flavor a bit, too?
Originally published December 8, 2011