While there are plenty of complex, show-stopping recipes in Domenica Marchetti's new cookbook, The Glorious Vegetables of Italy, the recipes in which she truly shines are often the simple pantry-based ones. Take these roasted carrots: Instead of slicing the carrots into coins or chunks, Marchetti cuts them into elegant thin fingers. (This technique also happily increases the ratio of crisp browned parts to soft interior parts.) She tosses the carrots in a potent mixture of olive oil, balsamic, and honey before throwing them in a hot oven until they've turned spotty brown and just barely tender. The floral honey complements the natural sweetness of the carrots, and balsamic adds zip to keep the sugar in check. If you use a honey and a balsamic with character, you won't regret it—the carrots are more like a provocative dessert you get to eat for dinner.
Why I picked this recipe: I can always use a new way to prepare carrots, a staple in my kitchen.
What worked: I used a strong local wildflower honey in this recipe and definitely didn't regret it—the floral dimensions of the honey transformed the carrots.
What didn't: I didn't like the way that the sauce pooled on the roasting pan when I tossed everything together on the pan: it caused the carrots to steam instead of roast for the first 20 minutes of cooking, and I needed to extend the cooking time a bit to get good browning on the carrots. Next time I'll coat the carrots in the sauce before placing them on pan.
Suggested tweaks: You could roast any root vegetable like this. Beets would be especially good.
About the author: Kate Williams is a freelance writer and personal chef living in Berkeley, CA. She is a contributor to The Oxford American and Berkeleyside NOSH, and she blogs at cookingwolves.wordpress.com.