My Rainbow Carrots in Tarragon Brown Butter are the best springboard to an easy, memorable (for good reasons) Easter (or Mother’s Day) dinner.
Because you’re my friend, I’m going to give you a piece of professional advice. Never, ever, ever go out to eat on a major holiday. Just don’t do it to yourself. Nine time out of ten, the cooks and waitstaff are over it after the first hour of their shifts, which tends to result in a less than stellar meal. The menu most likely was also whittled down to near nothing. Even if neither of the aforementioned is the case, the sheer number of people you’ll have to contend will most certainly make the experience less enjoyable. Instead, stay home and prepare a lavish meal for a fraction of the cost; enjoy it with people you like. Or, people you have to live with because you share DNA. Our family has had to adopt this routine after years of dining out frustration.
Easy? Tell Me More!
Now, when I tell you these rainbow carrots are easy to make, I’m not jiving you. I think the hardest part about the recipe is sourcing rainbow carrots. If you live in a big city, you should have no issue, at all. I mean, any decent grocery store should carry them if my food desert of a city has them. If you can’t locate them, just use the common carrot in orange. The recipe will still be amazing and easy.
In addition to your rainbow carrots, you’ll also need unsalted butter. Be sure to choose a good brand since the butter is the backbone of this recipe. Also, grab a bunch of fresh tarragon. Dried just won’t do for this recipe. Salt and freshly ground black pepper are going to round out the dish. Seriously easy, am I right?
What are Rainbow Carrots?
After tons of online and book research, I was shocked to discover that our beloved orange carrot is actually not a natural color for the root veggie. In fact, the orange variety is a hybrid of the yellow and red carrots! Shocking, I know. In parts of the Middle East, the purple carrot has been all the rage for decades, if not centuries. All that is to say, rainbow carrots are not artificially colored, nor are they abnormal. It’s just that we, in the States, are just catching up to the rest of the world. Think of rainbow carrots as you would purple yams, or potatoes- they’re just the same beast with a different shade of skin.
All of that aside, these bright lovelies still have the same health properties as their orange step-cousin. The same lycopene that you’ll find in your salad tomatoes are found in red carrots. Purple carrots contain anthocyanin, a pigment you’ll find in any “blue” or violet food, which is reportedly great for regulating immune responses. Orange carrots- as I’m certain you already know- contain beta carotene, which is great for healthy eyesight. Yellow carrots are full of lutein, which is also great for the eyes. After all that freaking healthiness, we’re gonna toss all these in butter. So, I mean, whatever.
Grab a vegetable peeler and your cutting board, then peel all of your carrots. Lop off the very ends of the carrots after peeling. If you’re in charge of cooking for your whole clan, this recipe is easily doubled, or tripled, so no one has to fight over them.
Valuable Tip Ahead…
…I ALWAYS (and I mean ALWAYS) save the scraps of my veggies- peels, trimmed ends, etc. (sans peppers and tomatoes… read the bag!)- for stocks. Whenever I have gathered a generous amount of veggie scraps and poultry, pork, or beef bones; I throw them all into my large stock pot. I add a crap-ton of water to the pot and set it to simmer for 24 hours. Next thing you know- BAM! Bone broth.
SAVE. YOUR. FOOD. WASTE!
Not only is it valuable for making stocks and broths, it’s stellar for adding to your garden’s compost bin. You don’t compost? Hunt down a neighbor that does. You give them your food scraps for their compost pile, and in return you may receive a portion of their bountiful harvest! If you don’t, they’re a sucky neighbor. Find a different neighbor and give them your veggie scraps, instead.
Best Cut for Roasting Carrots
Whenever you plan to roast carrots, think “THICK slices”. Chunks, even. Carrots don’t take much to roast until tender, but in order to get the light char on them that you want in this recipe, you’ll need to roast them for at least 25 minutes. I like going as long as 45 minutes if I can get away with it. In order to get them in the oven and roasting for that amount of time, you’ll need to cut them fairly thick. A angling your chef’s knife, ever so slightly, will produce a visually interesting diagonal slice of your carrot. Simply turn the knife (or the carrot) 45° and chop. If you’re not in the mood for geometry, just cut them straight. The thickness of the slice should be no less than one inch, and no greater than 3 inches.
Once your carrots are cut, throw them onto a lightly greased sheet pan and roast them for 25-45 minutes at 425°F, or until they are tender and slightly charred.
Let’s Chat About Tarragon
The pairing of tarragon and rainbow carrots should be a more popular one in the home kitchen. I’ve been tossing my carrots in the anise-flavored herb for decades. For me, carrots and tarragon are the best flavor match, with sage and carrots being a close second. In smaller food markets, tarragon isn’t always available fresh, so if you’re unfortunate enough to live in such a place (I’m sorry), use fresh sage instead. Same amounts, same prep, just a different herb.
To prepare the tarragon for the rainbow carrots, just hold the tip of the stem between your fingers and thumb. Use the fingers of your opposite hand to run down the length of the stem, separating the leaves from the stem in one fell swoop. That’s all there is to removing the leaves from a stem of tarragon…or rosemary…or thyme!
After you’ve de-stemmed the herb, just give it a nice mince with your knife and set the tarragon to the side.
Browned Butter is Different than Burnt Butter
Browned butter, even a dark brown butter (or beurre noir) amps up any side dish. Although I’m using it to glaze my rainbow carrots, here, I would strongly suggest trying this on all of your favorite veggies. Be careful though! The first lesson I learned in culinary school when making butter sauces, was that browned butter and burnt butter go hand-in-hand. It takes some good timing to avoid the latter.
In a saucepan, over low heat, melt your stick of unsalted butter. Don’t crank up the heat thinking you’ll get your desired result faster- browning butter doesn’t work like that. The truth is that this process only takes about five minutes. Since you’re doing it while your carrots are roasting, you don’t need to rush it.
Once your butter has melted, it’s going to foam up quite a bit. Stir the butter constantly to move around those butter solids- that’s what we’re browning. Once you begin to see golden brown flecks of “stuff” (butter solids) in the bottom of your pan, remove it from the heat.
For these sweet carrots, a dark brown, nutty butter is the perfect glaze. Removing it from the heat will stop it from continuing to cook. If you forget and go any darker, just chunk it into the trash because it’ll taste acrid.
Quickly toss in your minced tarragon, salt, and pepper. All of this will further cool down the butter and halt the cooking process. This step also fries the tarragon, which, when I first made this dish, was an unintended surprise.
Toss, then Reheat the Carrots
After the rainbow carrots have been fully roasted, remove the pan from the oven. You can turn the oven off if you have no more recipes you need it for, we will only use it to keep the carrots warm. Pour the tarragon brown butter over them and use a spoon to toss the two together. Make sure you’re thorough in your toss game, my friend!
Once the carrots have been bathed in the brown butter, return the pan to the warm oven and allow them to heat back up, if you’re going to serve them a bit later. You can also serve them straight-away if they’re still hot.
Garnish (or Don’t) and Serve
I’m a huge fan of garnishing my dishes when I’m serving them for special events or holidays. If it’s for dinner on a Tuesday evening, they are garnished with a serving spoon and that’s it. If you feel fancy, go ahead and garnish the carrots with a sprig of tarragon. Don’t feel up to it? Don’t sweat it. I’m not grading you.
I prefer serving these rainbow carrots piping hot, but surprisingly enough, these rainbow carrots are great cold. I know! Shocked my damn self when I found that one out. It really does pay to be greedy sometimes, Friend. As easy as they are to prep and roast, they can be whipped up an hour prior to dinner being served.
Just remember not to rush the butter browning. I don’t recommend browning your butter ahead of time because reheating it (to melt it) may cause the butter solids to burn. Just take your time and brown whilst the carrots are roasting. If you must make it slightly ahead of time (the brown butter, that is), don’t melt it before tossing into the carrots. Let the residual heat from the carrots melt the butter when you toss the two together.
Once everyone has gathered for the special meal, pull the carrots from the oven, dish them up and enjoy.
I’m telling you, there’s no way you’ll ever get a side dish this vibrant and tasty in a packed restaurant. Try this Rainbow Carrot in Tarragon Brown Butter recipe soon, or pin it for later.
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Rainbow Carrots in Tarragon Brown Butter
- 2 pounds rainbow carrots , peeled and trimmed
- 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
- 2 stems (about 1 1/2 tablespoons) tarragon de-stemmed and minced plus more to garnish
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- Preheat your oven to 425°F, then lightly grease a half sheet pan with cooking spray or vegetable oil.
- Turn your chef's knife (or the carrot) 45° and chop the carrots into 2" thick slices. Place the carrot slices onto the sheet pan- in a single layer without crowding the pan- and roast them for 25-45 minutes, or until they are fork-tender and slightly charred.
- While the carrots are roasting, prepare the brown butter.In a saucepan, over low heat, slowly melt the butter, stirring constantly.
- Once the butter solids (at the bottom of your pan) begin to take on a golden brown color, remove the pan from the heat.
- Quickly toss in the minced tarragon, salt, and pepper and stir to season the butter.
- Once the carrots have fully roasted, remove the pan from the oven. Pour the tarragon brown butter over them and use a spoon to toss the two together thoroughly.
- After tossing the carrots in the tarragon brown butter, return the pan to the warm oven and allow them to heat back up, if you're going to serve them a bit later, or garnish and serve them straight-away while still hot.
- If you can't locate rainbow carrots, orange carrots may be substituted.
- Don't to rush the browning of the butter. It's not recommended to brown the butter ahead of time as reheating it (to melt it) may cause the butter solids to burn.
If you must make it slightly ahead of time (and the butter solidifies), don't melt it before tossing into the carrots. Let the residual heat from the carrots melt the butter when you toss the two together.
- When making the brown butter, if you accidentally overcook the butter to a very dark brown, throw it away and begin again, or the end result will taste acrid.