Why was I drawn to these carrots when I went to the market? You see, I don’t like cooked carrots. If I see them at a potluck or on the menu at a restaurant I will avoid them like the plague! I love raw carrots but cook them on the stove or bake them in the oven and make them all mushy on the inside, no thank you. So why was I drawn to these carrots when I had no intention of eating them raw? I think sometimes as a recipe developer I look at certain foods as a challenge. Make a food you hate into something you love. Is that even possible? Sometimes it’s a texture thing and no matter what you infuse, douse, or marinate it in, the texture won’t change. But I wasn’t sure that was the case with carrots, so I placed these beautiful orange roots with their bright leafy greens into my basket and decided to take them on as my challenge.
I’m pretty sure my husband felt the same as I did because the moment he walked into the kitchen he said, You’re not making those for us, are you? In which I replied, No, I am making them for Peter Rabbit. I don’t think he was amused. I just told him to trust me on this one. I was attempting to make a carrot dish that he and I would love and if they turned out bad he wouldn’t have to eat them, and I would most likely never attempt to bake carrots again.
I knew I wanted to start with maple syrup as the glaze but what herbs and spices to add, I wasn’t quite sure? I opened my spice drawer and literally stared at them for quite some time. My first thought was thyme but I was completely out. Rosemary? No, the combo of maple syrup and rosemary didn’t quite sound right. Herbs de Provence? Hmm, too many herb combinations. I finally settled on dill and decided to throw in a little cumin. I had never combined dill and cumin before and quite honestly thought maybe I was destroying my attempt of liking baked carrots before I even got started. But I went for it because it sounded good in my head and hopefully would translate to my taste buds.
I arranged the carrots in my cast iron Le Creuset baking dish I received as a wedding gift over 30 years ago, and poured the glaze on top. As they baked the maple glaze bubbled up around the carrots. I still might not like the taste, I thought, but they sure look pretty baking in the dish.
I enjoy making new gluten-free recipes and this one has an option to be made dairy-free as well. It also fits in with our eating clean regimen we are doing for the month of January and hopefully beyond.
When I took them out of the oven I arranged them on a dish altering the green stems from one end to the other. This helped the carrots all fit and look pretty on the plate at the same time. If you are going to serve them in your baking dish, arrange them this way before baking. Now for the test. They looked good, smelled good, but would they taste good? My husband waited for me to try the first one. I detected his hesitancy even though they did look really good.
I choose the smallest one on the dish and took a small bite. My husband looked at me with curious anticipation. Well? he asked inquisitively. I didn’t answer. At least not at first. I was diving into the rest of the carrot. He took a bite. Oh, wow! he said. I know, right?!! I answered back. We devoured the carrots.
I was thinking back to my childhood and realized that most of the carrots I ate growing up had been boiled in a pan of water. Well no wonder I didn’t like them! These baked carrots are so delicious they will now become a favorite side dish. Who knew? What a joy to take a food you hate and turn it into a food you love.
If you are interested in trying another dish I made with cumin, you may want to try my Quinoa Salad with Orange Cumin Dressing. It took grand prize in a recipe contest.