Whether you are roasting carrots, parsnips, beets, rutabagas, turnips, celeriac, or even potatoes, this recipe will make your vegetables taste amazing. The depth of flavors in the marinade and dressing will probably make this one of your favorite ways to cook root vegetables. This recipe goes great as a side to roasted meats, like a stuffed pork roast or roasted chicken, or it can stand alone for a healthy and hearty salad. The creamy basil dressing adds a creaminess and richness while providing a delicious accompaniment to the salad greens. The bread adds a hearty texture. The original idea for this recipe came to me from Jamie Oliver’s roasted carrot & avocado salad. Jamie’s salad looked amazing to me, but the flavors just weren’t my favorite. I wanted a more Italian flavor with strong flavors of garlic and balsamic vinegar and subtle notes of lemon and basil. This recipe resembles Oliver’s recipe in method, but it’s actually a whole different salad in terms of its flavors.
So I went to the farmer’s market and I found some gorgeous purple, white and orange carrots which I promptly soaked in water to remove the silt and washed the carrots with a veggie wash solution to remove any stubborn dirt:
To feed 4-6 people, you should get 2 good-sized bunches of carrots, if you can get organic and local, the flavors and variety are so much better plus the nutritional value is better than with conventionally grown vegetables in most cases.
Preheat the oven to 350ºF and bring a pot of salted water to a boil and after you’ve washed and trimmed the carrots, add them to the boiling water and cook for 10 minutes while you make the marinade:
1/4 c. olive oil
4-5 garlic cloves minced
2 Tbsp WHITE balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
2 Tbsp basil minced
zest of a lemon, then cut it in 1/2 (but do not add the juice yet)
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. fresh cracked pepper
Mix all marinade ingredients together and wait for the carrots to finish boiling.
Once the carrots/root vegetables are done par-boiling, quickly strain out the water and begin to cut the large carrots so that everything cooks evenly. Cut the larger carrots in 1/2 first and then on a diagonal cut long ways, to get the prettiest effect. Leave small carrots whole. Add carrots to your roasting pan and drizzle with your marinade. Lightly toss the carrots so that the marinade is evenly spread across. Then dice up an onion and add it to the carrots making sure to get the onion in the marinade as well. All I had were green onions, but I’d recommend any sweet onion like a yellow onion or a Walla Walla sweet, for a more complex and sweet flavor. 😉 You also want to add your lemon that you cut in half earlier, face down in the roasting pan.
Roast carrots for 35 minutes, then turn the oven to broil and broil the carrots for another 3-5 minutes to caramelize the carrots a bit. Don’t forget about the carrots once you turn the broiler on! 😉 They should look like this when they come out of the oven:
While they are roasting, you can make the creamy basil dressing, here’s what you’ll need
1/2 cup plain Greek-style yogurt
2 Tbsp. mayonnaise or Veganaise
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp. white balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
10 large fresh basil leaves
1/4 teaspoon onion
2 cloves garlic
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Mix everything but the olive oil in a food processor until well combined. Then drizzle the olive oil into the mixture while you have the food processor going on low so that the dressing emulsifies a bit. Chill until ready to top salad.
Also, while the carrots are roasting, toast or grill up some pieces of crusty bread. I just threw some Trader Joe’s Crushed Wheat Sourdough slices in the toaster oven and WOW. The bread will absorb the marinade and dressing and taste sooo good. You also want to wash any salad greens you’ll be using and get them ready. Pull out your Parmesan cheese (or the cheese of your choosing), as well, because you’ll want to grate/add some on top of this already flavor-packed-punch-you-in-the-mouth beauty of a salad.
To make the salad:
Take your tongs and squeeze the lemons that have been roasting with the carrots all over the carrots and then pour the carrots and marinade into a bowl. Next add your torn up grilled/toasted crusty bread and toss with the carrots so the bread absorbs some of the marinade. Then assemble your salad. Greens on bottom, carrots/bread mixture next and then add the dressing and cheese on top. It’s the perfect meal!