Roasted Carrots with Pesto and Hazelnuts

For the first time we have a good carrot crop growing in the garden, thanks to the netting keeping the rabbits out, plus good seeds from Seed Savers Exchange. We have harvested a few carrots each week and there are still many roots underground and many fronts blowing in the wind, plus I just sowed more for fall harvest.  I love going out to the garden and uprooting vegetables from the earth, snipping greens and herbs, and plucking squashes, tomatoes and beans. It is a primordial connection to life, to the earth, and to our true nature. 

With the summer heat the carrots get spicier and not as sweet as I’d like them, so I roast them at 400°F for 20-25 minutes in a foil pouch to make them sweet and tender. I’m not always excited to turn the oven on when is 95 degrees out, but when I do, I take the opportunity to do a large batch of roasted vegetables, like beets, carrots, cauliflower, and somehow potatoes always make it in the mix. Thankfully, it has been cool and rainy here in Colorado for the past week and today a little sun is coming through the window, the grass waking up plush and green, and the bees getting busy in the garden with the many flowers sprouting from the rain. 

Roasted vegetables make for an easy, on-the-go meal solution, or perfect to put a pasta dish together in minutes, to top a salad, to add to cooked quinoa, to slice for a sandwich with hummus and greens, or to dip into pesto, like I did with the carrots I roasted this week. I also used the carrot greens, beet greens, and a bowl full of basil to make pesto, which I’ve been making on repeat, together with focaccia, since we got back from Italy. 

genovese basil

During our trip to Italy we discovered how regionalist the Italians are. We found the regional specialties heavily promoted and sold by the pint or the pound, including pesto, which is indigenous of the region of Liguria, specifically from Genova, where they make it with Genovese basil, the kind with the big floppy leaves and spice aromas of cinnamon, light mint, and sometimes catmint {not my favorite.} The locals say that the basil taste best in that area, better than in any other area of Italy, I don’t know if that is true or not, but I can attest to the amazing, sweet, nutty and herbaceous taste of their pesto. We found it everywhere in Cinque Terre and rejoiced in buying pints of freshly made pesto to spread over focaccia and top with vegetables, olives, and cheese, or to toss it with greens and marinated seafood for a quick, and fulfilling salad. 

How to roast carrots (and other root vegetables)
~ The easiest way, I have found, to roast carrots, and other root vegetables, is to put them in a pouch made of aluminum foil.
~ I scrub the vegetables well, then season them with salt and pepper, and a bit of olive oil.
~Then put them on a foil sheet and make a pouch leaving a little aperture to pour a couple of tablespoons of water, the water allows for more steam to build when you close the pouch, keeping the vegetables from scorching before they release water
~ Tighly close the pouch
~ Roast at 400°F for 20-25 minutes for carrots. The cooking time changes depending on the root vegetable of choice and its size. For example, a whole beet might take 45 minutes to an hour, while cut into quarters it takes about 20-25 minutes. 

After roasting, You can cut the carrots in half and quickly broil them to give them a pretty roasted look, or eat them whole with a spoonful of pesto like Scott does. I sprinkled toasted hazelnuts over the carrots to add crunch and layers of flavors, you can add any nut or seed of your choice.  

~ Paula

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