Sweet and spicy baby carrots roasted in a Korean gochujang and maple syrup based glaze are an easy side dish to die for.
This is a public service announcement: Get yourself down to your local farmers market and pick yourself up a big ol' bag or two of baby carrots. Bonus points for a mix of colours. Then get yourself home and roast up a big tray of these mildly spicy, sweet little nuggets of deliciousness. I challenge you not to polish the whole lot off in one go.
Our local farmers market - the Hamilton Farmers Market - goes all year round, but it's always spring that gets me inspired to make the effort to get up and out of the house early on a Sunday morning. A wander around the market with an organic coffee in hand, lots of familiar faces and oodles of fresh local produce at its best is a great way to start the day.
I can never pass up baby vegetables. This week I was happy to bring home a big bag of both orange and purple baby carrots about the thickness of my finger. They're naturally sweet and delicious and don't need too much done to them. They are however taken to a whole new level with a spicy sweet glaze made with Korean gochujang chilli paste (one of my favourites!), maple syrup, fresh orange juice and sesame oil.
It's a simple combo that brings out the best of the carrots' natural sweetness and offsets it with a bit of spice, savoury sesame and perfectly caramelised charry bits from quick roasting at a high temperature.
Tender sweet baby carrots
These carrots are tender, caramelised, sweet, spicy and oh so wonderful. I could fit about 1kg into my roasting pan, but if I could fit more in I would! These are wonderful fresh out of the oven, good enough to snack on just as they are, and perfect added to a bowl of ramen noodles (pictured) or as a side dish with virtually any meal. Refrigerated leftovers are also surprisingly great added to a salad or lunch bowl.
You don't need to peel or trim baby carrots - I just gave them a good wash and cooked them as they were (greens removed). Their leftover top knots and squiggly tails go nice and crispy and are some of the best bits! If you don't like the idea, feel free to give them a peel and trim but be careful not to lose too much carrot as they're pretty small to start with.
Can't get your hands on baby carrots? There's nothing stopping you using regular carrots, just chop them into even sized pieces and extend the cooking time a little until they're tender.
But what's gochujang?
Korean gochujang chilli paste is one of my favourite things. It's a salty, spicy blend of fermented chillies and soy beans that I've become a bit addicted to. If you're not familiar with it, check out my recipes for gochujang bean balls or vegan bibimbap for a bit more info.
Standard gochujang includes wheat as an ingredient, but gluten free Wholly Gochujang is available from Amazon if you need it.
Do you need reminding that carrots are good for you?
Probably not. But you might like to know that one serve (quarter of this recipe) packs a whopping 192 per cent of your daily vitamin A requirements, 23 per cent for vitamin C and a respectable 13 per cent for daily iron - and that's before you've even served these babies with anything else.
These baby carrots are an awesome building block to making a healthy, interesting and delicious meal.
- 1 kg baby carrots washed
- 1 tablespoon gochujang chilli paste
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 2 tablespoon maple syrup
- 2 tablespoon orange juice freshly squeezed
- Preheat oven to 220C (430F).
- Mix gochujang, sesame oil, maple syrup and orange juice until smooth.
- Put carrots into a large roasting dish, pour over the glaze and use your hands to toss and rub glaze all over the carrots.
- Roast for 20-25 minutes, giving the tray a shake every 5 minutes. Mine were perfect after 20 minutes of cooking, but if your carrots are a bit thicker they could take longer. Try one and see if it's done to your liking.
- Serve immediately, or refrigerate and use as a tasty pre-prepared side dish over the coming week.