The humble carrot possesses a tasteful trinity of tones: sugary notes, deep earthiness, and underlying savoriness. That makes the rustic root vegetable a versatile ingredient, which can take a leading role in savory or sweet preparations. This autumn, chefs are creating delicious carrot dishes – from appetizers to desserts that will give you a newfound appreciation of this ubiquitous and often-underappreciated vegetable.
Geraldine’s, Austin, Texas
Blistered pillars of smoked carrot form a freeform Stonehenge on the plate. The blackened orange roots are accompanied by mole, fresh sumac, and crunchy bits of puffed amaranth. Make a reservation at Geraldine’s.
Ana at District Winery, Washington, D.C.
This isn’t your average churro. That’s because the circlet of fried dough is made with carrots, which lend a coral complexion. The sweet round is complemented by roasted carrots, tartly sweet maple labne, and spicy ‘nduja. Make a reservation at Ana at District Winery.
True Food Kitchen, Bethesda, Maryland
Medi-minded and heart healthy. Roasted heirloom carrots are tossed with sherry vinaigrette and laid atop a za’atar-spiced Greek yogurt sauce. Sprigs of dill and crunchy pistachio bits add the finishing touches. Make a reservation at True Food Kitchen.
The Drawing Board, Petaluma, California
Consider this a Cali take on the Jewish breakfast tradition. Smoked carrots are rolled in nori, slow roasted, and sliced like lox. They’re laid on a slather of vegetable cashew cream cheese on a hearty slice of Senora Levain bread. Make a reservation at The Drawing Board.
Cava Mezze, Washington, D.C.
Sometimes simple is best. Roasted carrots are lavished with coriander, tarragon, honey, lemon, and Aleppo pepper. The orange stalks sit on a bed of lemony Greek yogurt. Make a reservation at Cava Mezze.
Puesto, La Jolla, California
Two of our favorites together at last: piña colada and carrot cake. The classic cake is pumped up with pineapple and topped with coconut cream cheese frosting. A scattering of raspberry-accented pistachios, sweet pistachio sauce, and ribbons of candied carrot fill out the plate. Make a reservation at Puesto.
The Source, Washington, D.C.
These darling dumplings get their orange blush thanks to the use of dehydrated carrots. The plump parcels pocket tiger shrimp. To finish them off, they’re bestowed with honey-tamarind vinaigrette and chili oil. Make a reservation at the Source.
Compère Lapin, New Orleans, Louisiana
You’ve never had carrots and peas quite like this. Carrot agnolotti get dressed up with discs of the root vegetable and sweet English peas. For an unexpected crunch factor, there’s a scattering of farro granola. Make a reservation at Compère Lapin.
Outlier, Seattle, Washington
Slow-roasted carrots are embellished with Vadouvan curry spice. They arrive on thyme-boosted carrot puree. The pretty plate is filled out with pistachios, pureed dates, shaved smoked sheep’s milk feta, and a quenelle of yogurt. Make a reservation at Outlier.
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Nevin Martell is a Washington, D.C.-based food and travel writer and the author of several books, including Freak Show Without A Tent: Swimming with Piranhas, Getting Stoned in Fiji and Other Family Vacations. Find him on Twitter @nevinmartell and Instagram @nevinmartell.
Photo credits: Scott Suchman (The Source); Molly DeCoudreaux (The Drawing Board); Richard Casteel (Geraldine’s).