Winter Vitamins: Pomegranate Spiced Carrots

It’s January, and I think we’re all feeling it. A bit too much sugar (I’m looking at you, peppermint brownies), a little too much bubbly (though this was a great discovery), and the first long rainy trudge back to work. And it’s really just the beginning of winter. In these situations, colorful vegetables help.

Something is always broken in our tiny East Village home. Water drips from all corners of the ceiling when it rains, the chimney smokes until you can’t breathe, and the sliding “doors” to the bedroom don’t QUITE close. This week, as soon as it went down below freezing outside, the thermostat went on the blink. It was cccccold, so I really wanted to crank the oven on and leave it on a long time. (I suppose I could have really warmed myself up by doing an exercise video, but really, I wasn’t feeling that virtuous.)

This recipe scored on both the vegetable and hot oven counts, plus it promised to use up the last few cups of pomegranate juice lurking in my fridge from a long-ago brunch. The recipe called for pomegranate molasses, which I fully intend to try someday when I can snag a cheap bottle, but cooking down juice on your own works fine. Heeding the warnings on Epicurious, I cooked the carrots halfway before adding the sweet glaze. It caramelized up nicely and didn’t set off the fire alarm. (Well, I had already unplugged the fire alarm. That thing goes off if you cough in our apartment, and it’s really loud.)

These are really zingy, with really bright flavors. They’re not your regular sleepy roasted root veg. The cardamom and cumin are a strong foil for the fresh sweetness of pomegranate, mint, and basil. It’s a little loud, as winter vegetable dishes go, but packs a welcome vitamin punch. Which might be what we all need.

Pomegranate Spiced Carrots
adapted from Bon Appetit

Serves two generously as a side dish

2 cups pomegranate juice
1 cup orange juice
olive oil for roasting
2 tablespoons finely grated peeled fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
pinch ground nutmeg
pinch cayenne pepper
2 pounds medium carrots, peeled, halved lengthwise
1/3 cup pomegranate seeds (optional, I didn’t have them.
1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted
2 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh basil leaves
2 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh mint leaves

Preheat oven to 400°F. Put carrots in roasting pan, sprinkle with olive oil, toss to coat. Roast carrots 30 minutes, stirring once. Meanwhile, pour pomegranate and orange juice in a small saucepan. Boil to reduce by half. Mixture will be not quite thick. Add ginger, cumin, cardamom, nutmeg, and pepper to pomegranate mixture. After carrots have cooked 30 minutes, reduce heat to 350°. Toss carrots with glaze and roast until carrots are tender and liquids are reduced to glaze, stirring twice and mixing in water by tablespoonfuls if needed to prevent burning, about 30 more minutes. Season with salt and pepper. (Can be made 4 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature. Rewarm in 375°F oven 10 minutes before serving.)

Transfer carrots to platter. Sprinkle pomegranate seeds (if using), pine nuts, basil, and mint over carrots and serve.

In vegetables, vegetarian, winter

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