Sunday afternoon is my favorite time to cook. It's when I settle into the time-consuming recipes I dream of on weeknights and never quite get around to on hectic Saturdays: slow-simmering soups and loaves of homemade bread, salads with heaps of vegetables to peel and chop, tofu that needs a few hours to marinate. I listen to my favorite food podcasts--Lynne Rossetto Kasper telling a caller "Here's what you're gonna do" with ten pounds of plums on The Splendid Table, or Christopher Kimball taste testing chicken broth and discovering the secrets to the ultimate chocolate cupcake on America's Test Kitchen. The onions are chopped before I start cooking instead of while the pan is heating, dirtied pots are washed as I go instead of accumulating in the sink, and the side dishes are slightly more complex than the weeknight standards of microwave-steamed vegetables or pre-washed mixed greens. Sundays are when I slow down and refocus, when I put the necessary time into my relationship with cooking to rekindle the spark.
This past Sunday's dinner was beet risotto, a hands-on dish ill-suited to frazzled weeknights, with a pan of spicy maple roasted carrots. The carrots aren't all that complicated--you just toss them with some olive oil, maple syrup, cayenne, and salt and roast them in the oven for 20 minutes or so to transform them into a sophisticated side dish that would be called a "small plate" at a hipster restaurant. If you're more ambitious than me when it comes to weeknight vegetable preparation, these can brighten up your Wednesday. Otherwise, save them for Sunday, when you can peel your carrots with care and savor every sweet and spicy bite.
Adapted from Buns In My Oven
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 pound carrots, peeled and cut into thin 3-inch long strips
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Whisk together olive oil, maple syrup, salt, and cayenne pepper in a medium bowl. Add carrots and gently toss until evenly coated.
Transfer carrots to a baking sheet. Roast until tender, about 20-25 minutes.