The problem with holiday meals is that the classics can get old, fast. The brisket is repetitive, the honey cake’s too dry, and the elaborate dishes you once thought were new and exciting are suddenly, due to the realities of life, too time consuming to attempt.
To remedy that, here are these carrots. Carrots are one of the symbolic foods eaten on Rosh Hashana- the Yiddish word for carrots is “mehren” which also translates to abundance, and alludes to our wishes for a year abundant in blessings and happiness. While most people make a traditional tzimmes (a dish of stewed carrots, prunes and honey) it’s a dish that, no matter how many times I’ve attempted to come to terms with it, does not appeal to me in the slightest.
So, I made these carrots instead. You see, roasted carrots do appeal to me. There is something wonderful that happens to them when they are roasted: they soften, they sweeten and they caramelize and collapse in places. These are just about the simplest side dish you could think of: they’re rubbed with honey and olive oil and flavored with a smoky za’atar, and I whipped up a simple cumin aioli to dip these into. Together, they’re a perfect pair: salty and sweet, crunchy and creamy and best of all, a far more sophisticated take (just look at those colors! Nature’s done all the work for you) on the usual holiday carrot dish.
Yields: approximately 5-6 servings
For the carrots:
- 1 pound colorful, heirloom carrots (from 2-3 small bunches)
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 tablespoon za’atar
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
For the aioli:
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 2 large egg yolks
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 small garlic clove, minced
- 1/2 cup canola oil
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- fine sea salt, to season
- Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 425ºF.
- Trim and scrub the carrots, removing their green tops. Place the carrots on a baking sheet, drizzle with the olive oil and honey, and sprinkle with the za’atar, cumin, salt and pepper.
- Roast, tossing occasionally, until the carrots are golden and collapsing in places and very tender, 20-30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, make the aioli: whisk yolks, lemon juice, and garlic in a small bowl. While whisking, slowly pour in the canola oil drop by drop, then olive oil, whisking vigorously until emulsified.
- Whisk in cumin and 1/2 teaspoon water. Season with salt. Cover; chill.
- Plate the carrots on a platter and serve with a few pinches of flaky salt, and a grind or two of black pepper.
- Serve warm or at room temperature, either drizzled with the aioli or with aioli in a bowl on the side.