I can practically smell it, fall is right around the corner, and I’ve been craving one of my fall favorite recipes lately. I picked this up a few years back at a friends house, they had invite my mother, my new husband, and I over for dinner. They have a beautiful home set on a large plot of land buried in the woods. At night, it was pitch dark. The land used to be used for a summer camp, I think, but they’ve refurbished all of the individuals buildings into a cozy, expansive home. For dinner they smoked Cornish hens in a Big Green Egg, and served it with pickled beets, roasted fingerling potatoes, and these delicious roasted carrots with feta cheese and a balsamic drizzle. I’m not big on beats, and while the bird was absolutely delicious, bone-in meal are never really my favorite, but those carrots were magic. I think I went back for seconds.
To those who’ve known me, it comes as no surprise that I loved these carrots. They are a perfect balance of all the flavors and textures; a little crunchy, a little soft, salty, sweet, sour, salty, and savory. I’ve also always been a fan of carrots. I rode horses until the last few years, and so, I always had a bag of carrots available as treats and snacks. If I was at the barn, I probably had a full carrot split between myself and my horse before and after practice. I used to joke that my carrot habit was to blame for my good eyesight. I’ve fallen off the carrot wagon since my horse passed a few years ago, maybe that’s why I’ve had to get glasses again.
I read recently, that August is also children’s eye health month. While eating a ton of carrots certainly won’t reverse an astigmatism or cataracts, sufficient amounts of the vitamins found in this bright, orange vegetable, such as Vitamin A and Lutein, have been found to prevent many such diseases. Carrots are rich in beta-carotene, a pigment which is an essential building block for Vitamin A. If you lack Vitamin A in your diet, this can lead to Cataracts, Macular Degeneration and other causes of blindness. Luteins are important antioxidants which helps to increase the density of pigment in the macula, an oval area in the center of the retina. The more dense your macula, the love the risk of macular degeneration.
So, if your child asks you why they have to eat their carrots, saying “because they make your eyes strong,” isn’t so far from the truth after all. Now, onto the food. As I mentioned, I was introduced to this recipe from a friend. She let me photograph the cookbook where she had it, but in the switch of phones, I lost that image, and have now had to recreate it from memory, so I can’t even source the original inspiration. The ingredients list itself is pretty simple: carrots, olive oil, salt, pepper, thyme, balsamic syrup or good balsamic vinegar, feta cheese, and walnut pieces.
To start, preheat your oven to 425°. Rinse and peel your carrots, then cut them in half long ways, and if they’re really large, you can cut them in to 3-4 inch long pieces. Lay your carrot pieces on a baking sheet, toss with olive oil and season with salt, pepper and thyme. If you have fresh thyme, I always recommend it, but if not dried or powdered will work in a pinch. Now you’re going to roast the carrots in the oven until they’re soft, about 15-20 minutes.
While the carrots are roasting, get a dry saute pan out and bring it to medium heat to toast your walnut pieces. I buy walnut pieces and then run them through my food processor to crush them up a little bit. You can buy walnuts already crushed though. Also, if you’re not a fan of walnuts, this recipe is just as good with pecans and macadamia nuts. I bet it would be amazing with crushed Marcona almonds or toasted pine nuts too. Once your carrots are soft, pull them out of the oven and transfer them to a serving dish. Now top with the crushed nuts, feta cheese, another light drizzle of olive oil, and a hearty drizzle of balsamic vinegar.
This recipe is great with just about anything. I’ve served alongside roast birds, lamb, and steak. It’s beautiful on a plate, and it even reheats well. As I mentioned before, the balance of flavors is practically perfect in every way. I’ve made you an easy printable that you can find here, and if you keep scrolling you will find the step by step instruction.
Are you a fan of roasted carrots, or looking for a new favorite? Are you going to try this recipe, or have you already? What did you think? Do you know where this recipe came from? I would love to give credit where it is due! Anything you would add to the recipe to give it that extra something special? I love hearing from you, so, please, comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!