Carrots are so much more intriguing than they usually get credit for. They have a savory quality — which hints of the earth they come from — and enough sweetness to be dessert-worthy (hello, carrot cake).
Raw, they handily keep their crunch in lunchboxes and picnic salads, but they also yield beautifully to heat, transforming with cooking to melt-in-your-mouth softness. Nutritionally, carrots are a wonder, too, bursting with the antioxidant beta-carotene (which imparts their yellow-orange color,) plus fiber, potassium and vitamin C.
This recipe gives the vegetable a chance to shine, literally, with a glossy, lip-smacking glaze that plays up on all its assets. The carrots, which are sliced on the bias for extra flair, are first simmered in a brightening splash of orange juice until they are just tender. Then, in the same skillet, they are coated with a touch of maple syrup to coax out their sweetness, a dollop of miso paste to bring out their savory side, and a hit of orange zest for fruity contrast.
Once the carrots are tender and shimmering with all that flavor, they are sprinkled with a nutty crunch of toasted sesame seeds, making for a quick side dish that lets you enjoy the full splendor of the stalwart vegetable.
Miso-Orange Glazed Carrots
- 1 tablespoon white sesame seeds, black sesame seeds or a mix
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter or neutral oil
- 1 ¼ pounds carrots (8 medium), peeled and cut on the bias ¼-inch thick
- ¼ teaspoon finely grated zest and ¼ cup juice from 1 large orange, divided use
- 1 tablespoon shiro miso (white miso) (see note)
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- Salt and ground black pepper
In a 10-inch dry skillet over medium heat, toast the sesame seeds, stirring frequently, until golden and fragrant, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a small dish.
Return the skillet to medium heat and add the butter or oil (if using the butter, let it melt first). Add the carrots and cook, stirring occasionally, until warmed through, about 2 minutes. Add the orange juice and bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat to low, cover and cook, until the carrots are firm-tender, 5 to 6 minutes.
Stir the miso, maple syrup, orange zest, salt and pepper into the orange juice until they form a sauce. Increase the heat to medium-high and cook, uncovered, stirring frequently, until the carrots are tender and glazed and the sauce thickens, 3 to 4 minutes. Toss in the sesame seeds to combine, then remove from the heat and serve.
Makes 4 servings.
Note: Miso can be found at well-stocked supermarkets, health food stores or Asian markets.
Nutrition information: Each serving (prepared with butter) contains approximately 124 calories, 2 g protein, 4 g fat, 20 g carbohydrate (12 g sugar), 8 mg cholesterol, 289 mg sodium and 5 g fiber.
Carbohydrate choices: 1 ½