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. [Editior’s Note: Consider propelling the carrots into author Seamus Mullen’s curiously complex-tasting yet easy-peasy recipe for Pickled Carrots.–Seamus Mullen
Salt-Baked Carrots & Beets
- 1 pound kosher salt
- Zest of 1 lemon preferably organic
- 2 tablespoons pink peppercorns
- 2 tablespoons black peppercorns
- 2 branches rosemary
- 2 sprigs thyme
- 1 bunch (3 or 4) slender carrots preferably organic, any color, trimmed and scrubbed
- 1 bunch (2 or 3) small beets trimmed
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (176°C).
- 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.
- 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.
☞TESTER TIP: It’ll be easier to remove the peels of the beets and carrots if you let them cool a little after taking them out of the salt and before attempting to undress them.
Salt-Baked Any Vegetable VariationRead 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.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
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.
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 carrots. 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.These were some tasty cooked vegetables.
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.
Originally published August 13, 2012