Thursday, December 15, 2011

And a side dish of carrots

I would love to tell you how this dish will change the way you view carrots forever. I would love to tell you how this dish was a revelation for a non carrot-loving person like myself. I would even love to tell you how the taste of carrots in this dish is something you have never, ever, tasted before.

But, no. I'm not going to tell you any of these things, because they simply would not be true.

What I am going to tell you is that if you're looking for a good vegetable side dish for your Christmas, New Year's, (or Festivus) dinner that tastes fantastic and is not going to bore you to death, then look no further.

Listen, I'm not the kind of person who serves side dishes just for the sake of serving them or just for the sake of filling up a dinner table. I'm the kind of person who, particularly at special occasions, I want to enjoy every single mouthful.

Every dish I put on the table has to be worth it and believe me, this is totally worth the twenty to twenty-five minutes it'll take you to prepare and cook. Yes, you don't need more than that, which of course leaves you with ample time to focus your attention on the other, more intricate dishes you're planning to make.

And as far as the flavor goes, imagine sweet, young, winter carrots glazed in luscious thyme honey, glistening under good melted butter, having the pungency of grained mustard and the delicate sourness of lemon. It is obvious that balance is key here, which is certainly achieved, but what is paramount, is enjoyment. So enjoy!

Thyme Honey-Glazed Carrots with Whole Grain Mustard and Lemon

I hate categorizing foods and saying that this dish is for Christmas, that is for Easter etc. This is simply a great side dish. You can make it anytime you want a side of vegetables to accompany a big, juicy steak, your favorite meatballs, or fish.

I use very young and rather small and thin carrots for this dish, which means that I don't boil them before I glaze/caramelize them. In case your carrots are bigger and thicker, boil them first for 6-7 minutes and then continue the process as in the recipe below.
Also, I don't like my carrots too soft, I want them to have some bite, so I don't cook them for too long. That is all a matter of preference of course. So, taste as you go along and cook them according to your own textural preference.

I always use thyme honey but you can use any other type of honey you have on hand.

Yield: 4-6 servings

500 g carrots (small, conical and thin ones)
125 g unsalted butter
1 Tbsp thyme honey (or any other runny honey)
1 tsp whole grain mustard (I used Maille à l' Ancienne)
2 Tbsp lemon juice, freshly squeezed
Lemon zest, freshly grated (from 1 lemon)

Remove the green leaves from the carrots, leaving some greens still attached. Wash them well under cold running water and peel them.

In a small bowl, add the honey, the mustard and the lemon juice and stir well until combined.

Place the carrots in a large and wide skillet, in one layer. Add the butter and heat over medium-high heat. When the butter has almost melted, pour the honey-mustard-lemon juice mixture over the carrots and add salt to taste. Allow the carrots to cook for about 20 minutes over medium heat, until they soften and caramelize, making sure to turn them every now and then in order to cook evenly.

When they are ready, remove them from the pan and arrange them on a platter. Pour some of the melted butter-mustard sauce on top and garnish with lemon zest.

You can prepare them in advance and reheat them when you want to serve them.


  1. These carrots look gorgeous and I love the balance of sweet and tart. Sometimes it's the simplest dishes that are the best!

  2. Oooh...I bet the lemon zest just makes it amazing. I love the little flair that the shavings gives the whole dish. I'm sort of obsessed with eating carrots, so this is my sort of recipe!

  3. I'm not a carrot hater but boiled ones bore me to death so thank you for showing us a different way. These will be on our table at Christmas. Your carrots look so pretty and professional and I love the way you've left the green tops on.

  4. Kathryn O — we are in total agreement.

    lauren — I'm glad you like it.

    Emily Vanessa — yes, boiled carrots are so incredibly boring. Thank you!

  5. You are making me jealous of rabbits!

  6. These carrots look wonderful! I love the presentation, they look so elegant and appetizing.

  7. I didn't even need convincing after seeing those beautiful photographs. I wish I knew where to get lovely small winter carrots with the stem on them...

  8. Nuts about food — I buy them at the super market or farmer's market here in Holland. Not only with their stems on, but with multitude of leaves still on as well!

  9. Love this dish! Carrots only need a little of butter, some honey and flavoring to shine, just the way you did it/

  10. You could tell me anything you want about those carrots. I think they have super powers, they're so beautiful.

  11. Such pretty carrots.. I am not a carrot lover but these look so appealing :)

  12. When I first saw this post I thought, oh please, who doesn't know how to do carrots? Turns out I don't. Not like this. These are gorgeous and very tasty. Thanks for the post.

  13. I like the simplicity of this dish! The carrots look gorgeous.

  14. Your carrots look beautiful with their stems on and can imagine how wonderful they must taste with honey and mustard. I've never seen carrots sold with their leaves here in Greece. Wishing you all the best for the Christmas Holidays.

  15. Thank you for the recipe! I made it as a side dish for a big Xmas dinner and my guests loved it!