In retrospect, the baby carrots weren’t a great idea.

My friend and I were planning our kids’ graduation party, and she recommended serving the cylindrical veggies as an appetizer.

“Get a big bag,” she said. “Kids love them.”

I got a Costco-sized bag. The kids didn’t make a dent in them — which meant I went home with a gallon of pre-cut nubs.

They’ve been taking up refrigerator space for weeks. (What’s in these things that they never go bad?) But this weekend, I finally got on the baby carrot stick and began looking for a way to cook them.

I wanted something more interesting than a boil or saute. Something with complex flavors that would complement the carrots’ innate sweetness while tickling my family’s other taste buds.

My search eventually led to Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty More, his lovely ode to vegetables and all the ways to cook them.

There, on Page 174, was a recipe for sweet potatoes roasted with orange juice and aromatic bitters. Could I substitute my son’s baby carrots for the sweet potatoes?

Turns out, I could. The carrots were a perfect match for the recipe’s juice, bitters, chilies and herbs. Their shape helped them stay slightly toothsome during their long roast. Best of all, they were even better the next day, served cold from the fridge with dollops of goat cheese and a sprinkling of almonds.

All in all, a delightful summer side dish. (I guess they were a great idea.)

carrots cooked

Baby Carrots With Orange Juice, Bitters & Herbs

This recipe is adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi, who adapted it from food writer and editor Ruth Reichl. I’d love to hear how you adapt it in your own kitchen!

  • 3/4 cup orange juice
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Angostura bitters
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 1/2 to 3 cups pre-cut baby carrots (left whole)
  • 1 chili de Arbol, broken in half
  • 2 sage leaves
  • 1 bunch thyme sprigs
  • 2 ounces goat cheese

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.

Grease a 9-inch baking dish and set it aside.

Combine the orange juice, brown sugar, vinegar, bitters and olive oil in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Let the mixture simmer for about 5 minutes, then remove your pan from the heat.

Place the carrots in your baking dish. Pour the orange juice mixture over them. Add the chili, sage and thyme. Season with salt and pepper, and stir well.

Place the dish in the oven. Roast the carrots for 50-60 minutes, or until the liquid is almost gone and the vegetables are tender and beautifully glazed. Be sure to stir the carrots every 15 minutes so they glaze evenly.

Spoon the carrots onto a serving platter and dot with goat cheese. Serve immediately, let cool to room temperature or refrigerate and serve cold.