The deep, sweet flavor of this dish will please even the veggie averse
Roasting concentrates the flavor of veggies, coaxing out their savor and natural sweetness. Which makes roast vegetables perfect for a festive dinner – such as, say, Thanksgiving.
These roast carrots and parsnips aren’t just something you’ll eat because “they’re good for you.” In fact, their flavor is so inviting, you may find them stealing the spotlight from your main dish.
Moral of the story? Make extra. Loads extra.
Recipe: Roast Carrots and Parsnips with Herbs
You can roast carrots or parsnips by themselves, but we like to combine them. Carrots are naturally sweet, of course. Parsnips are a bit sweet, too (and actually taste a little like carrots). But their texture and flavor also remind us somewhat of potatoes – so they complement carrots perfectly.
When you roast vegetables, they shrink a bit. That’s because the hot oven evaporates some of their moisture, in the process making them tender and caramelizing their sugars. This loss of volume also means that their flavor becomes more concentrated.
Because of this shrinkage, we estimate that you’ll need about half a pound of raw veggies for each (generous) serving. This recipe (which uses about 2 pounds of carrots and parsnips) will serve 4 (or 6 if your servings are small). But roast vegetables are so good that people usually want seconds, so you might want to scale up the recipe.
Prep time for this dish is about 10 minutes. Cooking time adds 30 to 45 minutes, depending on how large you cut the veggies.
Leftovers (not that you’ll have any) keep for a few days if refrigerated in an airtight container.
- ~1 pound carrots
- ~1 pound parsnips
- 2 to 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (to taste; see Notes)
- 2 to 4 teaspoons chopped fresh herbs (half that if using dried; we like to use a mix of fresh rosemary and thyme or sage, but see Notes)
- ~1 teaspoon kosher salt (to taste; see Notes)
- black pepper to taste (about half a dozen grinds for us)
- ¼ cup water (optional but we recommend; see Notes)
- ~2 tablespoons chopped parsley for garnish
- Position a metal rack in the bottom third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
- Scrub and peel the carrots and parsnips. Cut them into pieces 2 or 3 inches long, and then julienne them (cut into strips of ½ inch or a bit less). Or cut them into rounds if you prefer.
- Place the sliced veggies in a medium-sized bowl. Add the olive oil and toss until each piece is coated.
- Wash and dry the herbs, then mince them finely. Add them to the bowl, then toss with the carrots and parsnips.
- Add salt and pepper to the mix, then toss to coat the veggies.
- Pour the carrot-and-parsnip mix onto a baking sheet (use one with a rim). Add ¼ cup of water (if using) to the baking sheet. Place the baking sheet in the oven and set a timer for 25 minutes.
- When the timer goes off, use a spatula to turn the carrots and parsnips over. Begin testing for doneness at this point. It usually takes 35 to 40 minutes for the vegetables to become tender, but that depends on how large you cut the pieces.
- Wash the parsley, then mince it. When the carrots and parsnips are done, pour them into a serving bowl and toss with the chopped parsley. Serve.
- Oven temperature isn’t critical for this recipe. Vegetables roast well at any temperature between 350 to 425 degrees F. The higher the temperature, the more quickly they’ll cook, though – so you’ll need to check their progress more often.
- Vegetables also tend to caramelize (i.e., blacken) a bit more at higher temperatures. We like the look (and taste) of well-caramelized veggies. But you may not, so be aware of that.
- Because vegetables roast well at a range of temperatures, it’s easy to pop them into the oven along while the main course if you’re also roasting poultry or meat.
- BTW, carrots usually take just a little longer to roast than parsnips. So you may want to cut the parsnips into slightly larger pieces.
- We like to use extra-virgin olive oil for this dish because its flavor is wonderful. But you can substitute another oil if you prefer. Just use enough to coat each veggie piece thoroughly.
- Why add the water to the baking sheet in Step 6? Because it helps steam the veggies while they roast, keeping them tender. This is a tip we read about years ago in the late, lamented Gourmet magazine.
- We use kosher salt for cooking and baking. Kosher salt is less salty by volume than regular table salt (its crystals are large and more coarse, so they don’t fill a measuring spoon as tightly). If you’re using regular table salt, use about half as much as we suggest. But, as always, adjust the seasoning to your taste.
- Feel free to experiment with different herbs when making this dish. We particularly like to use rosemary with thyme or sage. But any herb that sounds good to you probably will be.
“Roast vegetables are the best,” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs. “These would be great for Thanksgiving.”
“As would Roast Sweet Potatoes,” I said. “Or Roast Cauliflower.”
“We do love to roast us some veggies,” said Mrs K R. “Another of my favorites is Roast Belgian Endive. Although it’s hard to go wrong with ordinary Roast Potatoes.”
“We’ve built up quite a roast roster, haven’t we?” I said. “We have also done Roast Asparagus, Roast Eggplant, Roast Cabbage, and even Roast Strawberry Salad. They’re all good.”
“And don’t forget Roast Brussels Sprouts,” said Mrs K R. “Though for Turkey Day, I still vote for these terrific roast carrots and parsnips. Shall we give them a place of honor at the table?”
“But of course,” I said. “How can I resist when you dangle a carrot in front of me?”
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!
You may also enjoy reading about:
Roast Sweet Potatoes
Roast Belgian Endive
Roast Strawberry Salad
Roast Brussels Sprouts
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