Fall Colors at the Market
The changing colors, the leaves falling from the trees and hiding the sidewalks as they gather throughout the day, the omnipresent chestnut stands – it is unquestionable what season it is here in Zürich. In my opinion, the most exciting place to see the arrival of autumn is at the market. Tables full of bright summer berries, juicy peaches and nectarines have been replaced by a panoply of root vegetables and a dozen varieties of apples. Pumpkins and funny shaped squash take center stage. The colors are just as vibrant, the produce just as fresh, a new selection simply exciting as ever. Restaurants are posting their new fall menus, and home cooks are taking advantage of the new fruits and vegetables available.
First stop for me was the stand with all those enticing carrots. I asked my market guy if the flavor or texture differed from one color to the next. I could tell he didn’t want to disappoint me, but he let me know that the red and yellow carrots were not nearly as sweet as the orange ones, almost lacking in flavor in comparison. Nevertheless, I bought 1 handful of each of the yellow and the red carrots, along with 2 handfuls of the orange, plus a big handful of (white) parsnips. I could already see myself serving a dish of beautifully roasted carrots, tender and slightly browned at the edges, all the different colors mixed together. And that’s what I did with them, roasted ever so simply in a hot oven – peeled, sliced and tossed together with some olive oil and kosher salt. Nothing more. I love cooking carrots (see below for recipes), and I tend to add honey, maple syrup or butter when roasting, or even braise them with vanilla beans. This time, with carrots as fresh as these, I wanted the flavor of the orange ones to stand on their own.
Simply Roasted Carrots
About a dozen carrots, any color you choose, peeled
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (200 degrees Celsius).
Cut the carrots in half lengthwise if thick; otherwise, leave them whole. Carrots will shrink while cooking, so don’t cut them too small, leave the pieces at least 2 inches long. Toss them in a bowl with the olive oil, salt and pepper. Transfer to a baking sheet or dish, and spread out in one layer. Roast for about 30 minutes, until browned and tender. Mix 1 or 2 times during that time to assure even browning, and taste to make sure carrots don’t get too soft.
Honeyed CarrotsAbout 1 lb (500 g) small carrots, peeled 1 Tbsp honey 1/2 stick (50 g) butter 2 Tbsp sesame seeds, toasted Salt and pepper
Put carrots in a saucepan with butter and honey and cover with water. Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to low. Let simmer until all the water has evaporated and you are left with tender carrots in a slightly sticky sauce. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds. Season to taste.