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A Thing of Beauty: Roasted Carrots with Thyme

March 27, 2008

I LOVE purple carrots!

When I saw them in the grocery store last week, I almost yelped out loud with glee — they’re one of my very favorite vegetables. They don’t taste particularly different from the regular orange carrots, but they are a creation of pure and utter beauty in my mind:

As I was thinking about this post, I realized that I actually love all “unexpectedly” purple vegetables: purple green beans, purple asparagus, purple cauliflower…but purple carrots are one of my favorites, their deep velvety purple exteriors giving way to a starburst of brilliant orange at their core. Besides their make-you-look-twice-color, what I love about cooking them is that they retain this color (unlike some other unexpectedly purple vegetables like purple green beans or purple asparagus, both of which fade to a shade of green when cooked.) Actually, I was reading up a bit on purple carrots and learned some fun facts:

  • Purple carrots may have been the “original” carrot: temple drawings from Egypt in 2000 BC show a purple plant, which some Egyptologists believe to be a purple carrot.
  • In Roman times, carrots were either purple or white. By the 10th century purple carrots were grown in Afghanistan, Pakistan and northern Iran.
  • The species did not turn orange until the 1500’s when Dutch agricultural scientists and growers used a mutant yellow carrot seed from North Africa to develop a carrot in the color of the House of Orange, the Dutch Royal Family.
  • Purple carrots have an entirely different class of antioxidants (anthocyanins) than orange carrots.

(the above facts are from Carrot History and the USDA’s Carrots with Character – the first page in particular has tons of other interesting information about carrots throughout history!)

One of my favorite ways to eat carrots is roasted with thyme. If the skins on the carrots are thin enough, I don’t even bother to peel them — just a good scrub under cold water to clean off any grit will do the trick. Roasting is actually my favorite way to cook vegetables in almost all but the late spring and summer months; I love the caramelized flavors brought out by the heat, and I roast just about any vegetable!


Roasting vegetables is more method than recipe. Start with your favorite vegetable (root vegetables work fantastically well; asparagus is divine; cauliflower is delicious and nutty; brussel sprouts are tasty), cut it into not-too-small chunks, toss with a little olive oil, kosher salt and pepper, and (optionally) a fresh herb, spread out on a sheet pan and bake at around 400-425 until the pieces are nicely browned, tender but not mushy.

Carrots and thyme play especially well together. A bowl full of these jewel-like carrots is like a gift: the surprise and brilliance of the colors is a really special treat!


150x150whblogging57.jpgI like these carrots so much, I’m sending them over to Ramona from The Houndstooth Gourmet as a submission for this week’s round of Weekend Herb Blogging. You can see the roundup of all submissions early next week on her site.


Roasted Carrots with Thyme

about 8 carrots, peeled if skin is thick, otherwise just scrubbed well
olive oil
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
about 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves

Preheat the oven to 425.

Cut the carrots on the diagonal into roughly 1 inch pieces. Place on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil (I never measure, but it’s usually about a tablespoon give or take.) Sprinkle with kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper, and thyme leaves. Use your hands to toss the carrots with the oil, salt, pepper and thyme right on the baking sheet.

Roast for about 25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the carrots are nicely browned on the edges but not burned, and tender when you pierce one with a fork. Sprinkle with a little more fresh thyme when you serve, if you like.

Serves 4.

18 Comments leave one →
  1. March 27, 2008 9:17 am

    Hi Amy,
    Great post! I have been craving carrots like this the past couple of weeks but I haven’t seen the right ones at the market yet, so this is a great inspiration. Thanks for the notes on carrot history – I am going to check out the carrot site.
    All the Best!

  2. trackellalouise permalink
    March 27, 2008 10:24 am

    I have never seen purple carrots! Your pictures are gorgeous. I’m craving roasted veggies now.

  3. March 27, 2008 12:57 pm

    Amy, hi! I just discovered your blog! I loved it. We share the same wordpress theme and at first I was confused thinking I rediscovered my own blog:) Your carrot recipe with thyme sounds yummy. Never made or had anything like this.

  4. Becky permalink
    March 27, 2008 1:27 pm

    I have a bag full of carrots because I needed one for a recipe last night. Now I know what I’m doing with the rest tonight!

  5. March 27, 2008 1:33 pm

    Purple carrots are so gorgeous! I have never tried them but will look out for them at my farmers markets! Thanks for entering them into Weekend Herb Blogging.

  6. March 27, 2008 3:05 pm

    Hi sue bette – glad you enjoyed the post, and hope you can find some colored carrots!

    trackellalouise – thank you!

    farida – Hi! I know the feeling; that’s happened to me with a few other wordpress blogs. 🙂

    Becky – enjoy! This is usually what I do with carrots that have been hanging around for a little w hile…

    Ramona – I hope you can find them! They’re a treat.

  7. March 27, 2008 8:30 pm

    Just gorgeous. Now I am feeling quite deprived because I’ve never seen purple carrots anywhere around here. I’m going to look harder for unusual veggies this summer.

  8. March 28, 2008 5:32 am

    Very interesting… I have never seen purple carrots… purple broccoli yes… Roasted carrots are sooo good, recently I discovered new recipe with roasted carrots and beets in maple balsamic syrup… delicious…
    I’m very happy to discover your blog!

  9. Lynne permalink
    March 28, 2008 6:25 am

    What an interesting post and such beautiful photos! I am always looking for another way to use different herbs with vegetables and this sounds like a delicious use of thyme. Thank you for sharing this recipe!

  10. March 28, 2008 6:46 am

    Thanks, Kayln – I hope you’ll be able to find some. If you happen to do any gardening, I know some of the seed companies sell purple carrot seed varieties…

    Coffee and Vanilla — thanks! I saw your post on Tastespotting; those maple-balsamic roasted beets & carrots look delicious!

    Thank you, Lynne! I’m always cooking with fresh herbs; this is just one more way to use them…enjoy!

  11. March 28, 2008 7:31 am

    Many times I have seen the carrots here have a hint of purple around the tops, but never have seen full purple carrots. We have had purple and orange cauliflower though, so I have hope! Lovely dish!

  12. April 2, 2008 8:06 am

    Oh I love these also!

  13. bonita siberry permalink
    September 6, 2008 1:01 pm

    thanks for the insight… I will make them this week…

  14. July 29, 2009 11:44 am

    Stumbled upon this in my search for purple carrot recipe.
    I have the same thing with unexpected purple veggies! Actually, I like all veggies in unexpected colors but purple’s my favorite, hands down.

  15. Alex permalink
    August 23, 2009 3:45 pm

    We grew purple carrots for the first time this year as a means of interesting my 7 year old daughter in gardening. We’ve been growing the Royal Burgundy beans for a long time, and my daughter loves to tell her friends about the ‘magic’ purple beans that turn green on cooking. The purple carrots have a lovely flavour – better than I expected – and my daughter will happily sit down and eat them and other fresh from the garden veggies. My only word of warning would be that like beets the purple carrots will turn my daughter’s lips and tongue purple when the carrots are eaten raw!

  16. Judy permalink
    October 14, 2009 1:54 pm

    We recently picked a bunch of purple carrots at our local organic vegetable farm. We were gleaning yellow carrots for our food bank and ran across the purple ones, which we brought home. We loved them! I was so glad to find this recipe.

  17. December 12, 2009 5:22 pm

    love love love this post AND pics!

  18. October 25, 2011 9:32 am

    I just bought some purple carrots but haven’t cooked them yet! I didn’t know they were orange inside I can’t wait to slice them up!! I was planning on roasting with some different coloured beetroot and serving as a warm salad with rainbow chard and blue cheese x

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