Roasted Sweet Herb Carrots

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We’re heading into the perfect time of year to be buying up root vegetables. At their freshest, all of the natural sugars have yet to turn to starch, and biting into a carrot or beet really isn’t so far off from a tree-plucked peach. As time goes on though, as much as root vegetables tend to keep for months under the proper conditions, they tend to lose a bit of that original luster, and you have to try a little bit harder to coax out their sweetness.

The easiest way is roasting. Even the natural sweetness of a potato is brought out after basking in high oven temperatures. Sometimes though, I like to cheat, adding a tablespoon or so of sugar that lightly caramelizes as well and brings the whole dish together. Sugar might seem like an unusual ingredient in savory cooking, but in many cases, it’s actually quite welcome. In an effort to use up my herb garden before winter hits (there’s hardly enough light inside to keep a cactus alive), I tossed some rosemary and oregano with carrots and called it a dish. Sweet root vegetables and a little smear of butter, what could be better? They made a nice accompaniment to a barbecued steak dinner.

Roasted Sweet Herb Carrots


  • 2 pounds small carrots, peeled and quartered to equal sizes
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • 1 sprig oregano
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons unsalted butter
  • salt and pepper


Preheat the oven to 450 degrees with a sheet pan inside.

Meanwhile, place carrots in a large pot of salted water and bring to a boil. Cook until they can be pierced with a fork, but not so easily that it goes right through and breaks the carrot. You can, of course, omit the boiling procedure, but I like it because things tend to cook more evenly. Drain the carrots, putting the colander back over the pot for a minute to evaporate any excess liquid.

Remove the hot pan from the oven, drizzle the oil into the pan and tilt it to coat. Toss in the rosemary and oregano sprigs and get hit with a blast of herbal fragrances, then add the carrots. Sprinkle the sugar evenly over them and return to the oven to roast for 20 minutes, turning once or twice.

When the carrots have roasted up, remove the herb sprigs, dissolve the pat of butter into the carrots and season liberally with black pepper and salt. Serve immediately.

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