Roasting vegetables whole is one of my favourite techniques I picked up while working at Frenchie bar à vins in Paris. When you roast a vegetable you intensify the flavour and natural sweetness by drying it out and add a beautiful caramelized colour to the exterior. There are endless recipes for roasted vegetables but I’m going to focus on one of my favourite ways to prepare rainbow carrots – whole roasted with a toasted sunflower dressing. This recipe is super healthy, vegan, dairy free and gluten free.
To Peel or Not to Peel Rainbow Carrots?
In culinary school we were taught to peel everything. This is because the skin of vegetables is usually the most bitter part and this will make stocks and sauces unpleasantly bitter if not removed. It’s especially important to remove the skin of vegetables when making a stock for a jus because this extra bitterness will be much stronger when the stock is reduced down to a rich sauce. That being said, we’re not going to peel these rainbow carrots for a few reasons.
The first reason is that vegetables skins have a lot of nutrition and we don’t want to throw away that healthiness. Carrot skin, apple skin and even potato skin all have loads of nutrition.
The second is that they look beautiful like this so why would we ruin them with a peeler. And most importantly, the bitterness from the skins will be balanced from the sweet caramelized flavours from roasting.
These Rainbow Carrots Aren’t Just a Pretty Face
Carrots are good for your eyes because they’re packed with vitamin A, lutein, and rich in beta-carotene . They also contain carotenoids which are antioxidants that have been proven to reduce your risk of cancer.
Roasting is More Nutritious Than Boiling
Not only do we intensify the flavour of the vegetable when roasting, the nutrition of roasted vegetables is a lot higher compared to boiled vegetables.
Why are Carrots Orange?
Carrots were first discovered in Afghanistan and spread across Europe by the Dutch in the 16th Century. Although the Dutch national colour is orange, it’s a myth that the carrots were chosen only because of this. The orange carrots grew more efficiently than the purple and yellow varieties and this is what became popular.
Sunflower is Healthy Too
This toasted sunflower dressing works really well with the roasted rainbow carrots. It’s creamy and smooth, with a bit of sweetness from the honey. Sunflower is loaded with healthy stuff like vitamin E and selenium which help prevent chronic diseases.
It’s 99% Vegan
This dish is almost vegan but because some vegans don’t consume honey it’s not. If you are vegan and don’t want to consume honey then simply replace the honey with a bit of sugar, agave or maple syrup.
Food Processor – You’ll need a food processor to make this sunflower seed butter. Food processors can easily make any nut butter, but a blender will have trouble. Don’t use a blender for a nut butter because you might actually break the machine.
If you don’t have a food processor you can also buy some sunflower butter from a health food store and use that instead. Although I like making it myself because it’s pretty quick to make and I hate stirring separated sunflower butter that’s been sitting on the shelf too long.
- Food processor
- 10 pc carrots, medium sized try to find similar sizes
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil high smoke point
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ bunch mint, leaves picked for garnish
- ¼ tsp sumac for garnish
For the Sunflower Butter
- 30 g sunflower seeds, raw + some extra for garnish
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
For the Sunflower Seed Dressing
- 3 tbsp vegetable oil
- 2 tbsp white wine vinegar or rice wine vinegar
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 tsp honey use sugar, agave or maple syrup if vegan
- 1 tbsp water
- 1/16 tsp xanthan gum optional
- Set the oven to 200°C/400°F.
- Wash the carrots well. Rub the skins of the carrots with a cloth or a scour pad to remove any dirt on the skin. Snip the tops of the carrots with scissors.
- Brush the carrots with a light coating of vegetable oil and line up on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Season the carrots generously with salt. Roast in the oven for about 35-45 minutes or until a there's a slight resistance when poked with a knife.
- Toast the sunflower seeds (plus about 1 tbsp extra sunflower seeds for garnish) in the oven for about 6 minutes.
- Once the sunflower seeds are toasted, add to a food processor with the 1 tbsp of oil. Blend until a smooth butter is formed. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides of the machine.
- Once a smooth butter is formed add the rest of the ingredients and continue to blend until a smooth dressing is formed.
- To finish the plate first cut some of the larger carrots in half. Plate the carrots down first, then sprinkle the sumac, toasted sunflower and drizzle the dressing over top. Add some fresh mint leaves on top. Enjoy!
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