As the weather warms up, turning on the oven to roast a pan of vegetables stops being an option, but that doesn't mean you have to spend the next five months eating green salads or steamed broccoli. Instead, look to your grill — or a stovetop grill pan — to quickly transform vegetables into soft, smoky, irresistibly summery versions of themselves. Carrots are one of my favorites on the grill, their charred, sweet flavor needing just a squeeze of lemon and some fresh herbs to become a simple but surprising side dish.
I fell in love with grilled carrots last year, when I started to see recipes popping up on food blogs, and spent the majority of the summer either grilling carrots or walking around telling people they should try grilling carrots. Smoky and sweet, they are absolutely addictive when tossed with a miso-lime dressing, or almost any combination of citrus juice and fresh herbs.
If you are using a grill pan, you will want to rig up some kind of lid to cover the carrots, so they steam and soften a bit as they grill. I place a large metal pot lid over my grill pan, but you could also use a metal sheet pan or metal baking pan. The lid doesn't have to be an exact fit, but most of the carrots should be covered, so they cook evenly.
And if you don't have a grill pan or outdoor grill, all is not lost. You can also char the carrots in a cast iron pan to achieve a similar effect. Either way, the recipe takes all of ten minutes to make, and turns out of plate of carrots with a softened snap and sweet, smoky flavor I just can't get enough of.
Grilled Carrots with Lemon and Dill
Serves 2 to 4
(about 1 pound) carrots, scrubbed and patted dry
grapeseed oil or other high-heat oil
fresh lemon juice
freshly ground black pepper
Trim tops and any fibrous ends from the carrots and cut crosswise into pieces approximately 3 inches long. Cut any thick ends in half lengthwise, so all pieces are about 1/2- to 3/4-inch thick. (If you are using an outdoor grill, see note below.) In a bowl, toss with the oil and 1/4 teaspoon salt.
Preheat grill pan or grill over medium-high heat. Place carrots cut-side down on the grill and cover. (Use a big pot lid or a metal sheet pan as a grill pan lid.) Grill for 4-5 minutes, until the carrots develop sear marks and are beginning to soften. Flip, cover, and grill for another 4-5 minutes. Carrots will be softened with a bit of crunch in the middle.
Transfer the carrots to a bowl. Mix in remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, dill, lemon juice and pepper. Serve warm or at room temperature.
If you're using an outdoor grill, you may want to grill the carrots whole, so they don't fall through the grates. After grilling, let them sit until cool enough to handle, cut them into pieces and proceed with the recipe.
If you don't have a grill or grill pan, you can make a version of this recipe with a cast iron skillet. Instead of grilling, place carrot pieces in a hot skillet until blackened in spots. Flip and continue cooking until softened and a little charred all over.
Try using other acid and herb or spice combinations. A few ideas: lime juice + cilantro, balsamic vinegar + parsley, and orange juice + cumin. They are also wonderful tossed with miso-lime dressing.
This post was requested by TandCake for Reader Request Week 2013.
(Images: Anjali Prasertong)