Herb-Roasted Carrots and Pesto Tartines

Even growing up in the Depression didn’t make my grandma immune to persuasive tactics at the table. “Carrots are good for your eyes,” she’d tell me as I pushed the boiled orange coins, floating in pools of butter, around my plate. Grandma had worn thick, plastic-framed glasses the whole time I’d known her, and I’d qualified as near-sighted almost as soon as I went to school, so the idea of not wearing glasses was appealing. She knew her audience, you could say. Thanks to her, carrots became one of the first vegetables I wanted to eat, along with green beans and potatoes, if you’re the type that calls potatoes vegetables, but I can’t say it was because I liked them.

Herb-Roasted Carrots and Pesto Tartines

She was right, obviously, about the health benefits of carrots, the same way anyone who tells you about the vitamins in fruits and vegetables would be right. Real food, grown on trees or in the ground, is filled with real benefits—but I only learned later that the health benefits of these foods were just the beginning.  Because while, sure, carrots are crazy high in beta carotene (which got its name from carrots!), antioxidants and, the darker the better, anthocyanins, they’re also delicious.

Particularly when roasted.

Herb-Roasted Carrots and Pesto Tartines

If you ask me, roasting is to vegetables what carpentry is to lumber, what construction is to a home with good bones, what love is to a wounded soul. Through oil, heat and seasoning, roasting becomes a testament to transformation, to beauty by fire. And in the case of carrots, the glory of roasting shines bright.

Herb-Roasted Carrots and Pesto Tartines

Around here, usually when we roast carrots, we peel and slice them, tossing them with oil, salt and pepper all over, drizzling with honey at the end. The already-sweet carrots caramelize in the oven, softening and wilting and crisping around the edges, becoming almost like candy with the little honey on top.

Herb-Roasted Carrots and Pesto Tartines

In this recipe, though, we tried something different. Matchstick slices of carrots get tossed with a herbed ghee mixture that involves dill, basil and parsley. Tossed with salt and pepper, the mixture goes into the oven for around 40 minutes.

When the carrots are done, blackened and charred, wilted and crisp, they are like oily, herby fries—perfect for layering on tartines.

Herb-Roasted Carrots and Pesto Tartines

Herb-Roasted Carrots and Pesto Tartines

Our tartines—or crostini or bruschetta or toasts—are simple to assemble: toast, pesto spread, carrots, a little maple syrup and chopped parsley sprinkled in top. They’re pretty as a picture, the kind of thing to make you double-take and want to grab a bite. They’d make interesting appetizers for a party, although I’ll admit we ate them for dinner alongside a giant salad stuffed with roasted beets. And they’re hard not to love, from the crunchy base of toast to the sweet and savory toppings piled on top.

Herb-Roasted Carrots and Pesto Tartines

But, mostly, above all else, these tartines are a great way to showcase the carrot, in all its nutritional, colorful, candy-like glory. I like eating them and thinking, I’m doing Grandma proud.




Herb-Roasted Carrots and Pesto Tartines
Makes 6 to 8 small bites

If you were to serve these tartines at a party, you might want to horizontally halve the carrot matchsticks for the sake of making them the sort of mobile snacks for guests to easily carry around a room. True, once they’re roasted, they’re easy to bend and arrange on top of the toasts, but the long slices can get messy as you bite in, so consider yourself warned.

Ingredients:
1 pound of the prettiest carrots you can find
2 tablespoons ghee (or coconut oil)
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1 tablespoon chopped dill
1 tablespoon chopped basil
Salt and pepper
3 to 4 pieces of bread (we used a spelt sourdough, but any crusty bread would work)
A few tablespoons of your favorite pesto (like this one)
Maple syrup, for drizzling
Chopped parsley, for garnish

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 375F.

Peel a pound of carrots and cut them into skinny matchsticks, first halving them vertically and then halving them vertically again. Spread out onto a rimmed half-sheet pan.

Stir together or mash two tablespoons of ghee with the 1/4 cup chopped parsley, tablespoon of chopped dill and tablespoon of chopped basil. Once combined, spread this mixture all over the sliced carrots, tossing well. Salt and pepper all over the top.

Roast for 35 to 45 minutes, until carrots are beautifully golden. If you like, you can remove the pan about five minutes before it’s done and drizzle some maple syrup on top.

Remove carrots from oven and toast three or four slices of bread.

Slice toast into bite-size pieces (about half a slice of sandwich bread). Spread with pesto. Top with roasted carrots. Once you have all the tartines assembled, drizzle a tiny bit of maple syrup all over the top and sprinkle chopped parsley as a garnish. Serve immediately, while still warm.

Suggested variation: Instead of pesto, try ricotta or mascarpone cheese.

Shanna Mallon

Shanna Mallon started Food Loves Writing back in 2008, as a way to remember her grandma and write about her life through food. Since then it's become a place leading her to a lifestyle of eating whole foods, a new home in Nashville and the love of her life, Tim. Follow Shanna on Twitter @foodloves, keep up with Food Loves Writing on Facebook and stay inspired with the monthly newsletter.

This Post Has 35 Comments

  1. Monika

    It’s funny to think about “the prettiest carrots” — I have been known to always pick out the awkward vegetables, the odd-shaped fruits. It’s something I got from my mom, and together we laugh over bifurcated eggplants and the wartiest gourds. That crooked carrot in your photo made me smile. THAT is the prettiest carrot!

    1. Shanna Mallon

      Monika, As soon as I read your comment, I realized how “pretty” is usually synonymous with “perfect,” and that’s not at all what I was going for. I’m with you on the awkward carrots, particularly when they’re colorful like these.

  2. sarah

    Love what you did with the carrots. I am making some chickpea bread and have a roasted hummus in the fridge and I think these carrots minus the gee (I’m Vegan) Would be fab! I just love all the colorful carrots we have been getting from the market! Thanks for sharing, beautiful pictures:)

  3. Kathryn

    Ah, I used to have so many battles with my mother about carrots when I was younger. It took me a while to come round to them but now they are one of my absolute favourites especially when roasted. I love them with a hint of chilli or paprika too to set off the sweetness. These tartines look simply and utterly perfect.

    1. Shanna Mallon

      I never had a vegetable roasted until I was an adult. It was like all the generations before me weren’t doing that (although that seems hard to believe?), and now I am convinced I was majorly missing out. Roasted vegetables for everyone!

  4. Jess

    So wonderfully put, Shanna – roasted carrots become such sweet, caramelized bites of goodness, it’s true. I love this idea though – I’ve never thought to make them into tartines, but can’t wait to try it!

  5. angela@spinachtiger

    I’m smiling ear to ear because this is so much my kind of food that makes me want to dance and sing. We are so on same page lately. I just made garden pesto from seven herbs in my garden and carrots are one of my all time favs when made the way you made them. I think I see Tim in this recipe. What a culinary team you two are!

  6. Kasey

    My grandmother used to tell me the same thing :) I love the metaphors – roasting really is a phenomenal way to bring a vegetable to a whole new level. These are just gorgeous, Shanna.

  7. Helene @ French Foodie Baby

    I just love these tartines, Shanna. But above all, I love all the poetry they inspired in your writing! “beauty by fire”, “the glory of roasting shines bright” are some of my favorite… And “what love is to a wounded soul”. And what your writing is to a carrot! :-)

  8. sarah

    Such gorgeous photos! I have vivid memories of flicking cooked, canned carrots under the table at dinner, only to be rewarded with a double helping covered in my salty tears. Now I love them roasted! If only my mom would have known how good they could be…

  9. Pingback: 15 Recipes for Entertaining

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