In March, Bon Appétit published a recipe for spice crusted–carrots with harissa yogurt. It was the first dish I made from that jam-packed issue and I found the cumin-y, caramelized carrots and cooling yogurt nothing short of enchanting. It seems I’m not the only one who thought so: renditions of this recipe have landed on local menus near and far.
At Brazen a couple weeks ago, I dined on an appetizer of ginger-garlic carrots served with harissa (a north African spice paste) and minted crème fraîche. The round, golf-ball size Parisian carrots were expertly roasted and tender, and the spices made the combo an ideal fall dish. Last weekend, at Meat & Cheese, Wendy Mitchell of Avalanche Cheese Company‘s just-opened spot in Aspen, I ordered the Indian-spiced carrots with yogurt and mint. The slender, roasted vegetables, with a couple inches of their greens still attached, were served with a drizzle of yogurt to help extinguish the fiery, addictive spices. And back in late August, I shared a roasted carrot salad (pictured) at Acorn and discovered a beautiful compilation of tender roasted carrots and perfectly ripe avocado over lemon-dressed arugula and dollops of curried aïoli.
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Of course, roasted carrots are nothing new (the Kitchen Next Door has been serving cumin carrots as a side for years). What is fresh is the idea of spotlighting the root vegetable as an appetizer or a salad course, rather than just as a side dish. Furthermore, the use of harissa and other far-flung spices transforms the dishes into something altogether new. (This technique is right in line with Sterling Rice Group’s prediction that advanced Asian flavors will continue to make a mark on cuisine). Watch for these flavors to extend beyond carrots, such as in Fuel Cafe‘s confited acorn squash with curry yogurt, apple, fennel, pistachio, and ras al hanout (a North African spice mix) vinaigrette.
Brazen, 4450 W. 38th, #130, 720-638-1242
Meat & Cheese, 319 E. Hopkins Ave., Aspen, 970-710-7120
Acorn, 3350 Brighton Blvd., 720-542-3721
The Kitchen Next Door, multiple locations
Fuel Cafe, 3455 Ringsby Court, #105, 303-996-6988