Carrots are one of those vegetables that often end up in my salads or juiced as part of a morning drink. When cooked they are often added to a stir fry or mixed into a stew. Rarely are they featured alone, allowed to show off their natural versatility. And they are versatile. Carrots are one of the most widely consumed vegetables in the world and you can find them in almost any culture’s cooking.

The common carrot, Daucus Carota Sativa, is indigenous to Europe and parts of Asia, but varies widely from its wild forefathers. Evidence of the carrot as a culinary component has existed since Mesolithic times, but the cultivation of the modern carrot as we know it today probably originated from Afghanistan and was later mutated and bred to its sweet, less woody and crunchy form we love today.

My mother always grew carrots and I distinctly remember running out to the garden to pick them for dinner salads. Their gentle give as they parted from the earth, sometimes barely dirty and bright orange with greenish tints to the top, and their bright earthy smell was enticing enough for me to barely brush the dirt off before I took a bite.

When I opened my box to find the multi-colored bunched carrots on top this morning I thought a simple roasting recipe was in order. This recipe, like so many, is only a starting place. Carrots pair well with a huge variety of spices and flavors. Indian dishes include them roasted and tossed with coconut, mint and yogurt or try them flavored Moroccan style, spiced with lemon juice, paprika, cumin and chili powder. In Mexico they are sliced and boiled till tender with bay leaves, peppercorns, garlic, vinegar and jalapenos. A tasty side to tacos and carnitas.

This recipe is as easy as it gets, the only flavors are the olive oil – use extra virgin – the citrus zest, I used Minneolas, and the honey – I used wildflower honey, but any would do. You can also steam them first until crisp tender, then finish them in the oven. Just be aware you won’t need as much liquid.

1 bunch medium to small-sized carrots
Juice of one medium-sized citrus
2 T olive oil, bit more for finishing
2 T honey
Salt and Pepper
1 T chopped parsley or mint for garnish

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Slice carrots on a bias about 1/4-inch thick. Toss in olive oil and salt to taste. Place in a large roasting pan so that the carrots from one single layer. Add citrus juice and cover tightly with foil. Place on center rack of the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven, remove foil and drizzle honey. Toss carrots to coat evenly and return, uncovered to oven. Raise temperature to 450. Cook carrots until soft but slightly crisp, about 10-15 minutes. Let cool slightly, then toss in parsley, season to taste and serve.

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