It's around the holidays that I feel particularly blessed to live in California, and so close to the amazing year-round farmers market in Palo Alto. There is so much inspiration for what to make, so many beautiful produce options from Early Girl tomatoes in the summer, to acorn and kabocha squashes in the fall, to root vegetables in the heart of winter.

If you're like me, you're pretty tired of the Thanksgiving side of green beans in fatty cream sauce -- only slightly redeemed by crunchy chip-like onions on top. Do something different this season with the abundance of beautiful rainbow carrots. I wanted an alternative vegetable side dish that uses one of my favorite flavor combinations: sweet/salty/spicy. This is definitely a unique dish to bring with you to Friendsgiving celebrations, but can also serve to expand your family's horizons when eaten along with a traditional Thanksgiving spread.

  • 2 tbsp white miso paste
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 bunches of rainbow carrots (about 10-15 total)
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • Pepper to taste
  • Dry-roasted pepitas to sprinkle on top

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Wash and peel the carrots. Chop them into 1 inch thick chunks (optional). Toss in 1/2 tbsp of the olive oil and sprinkle with pepper and chili powder as desired.

In a cast iron skillet, heat 1 tbsp of the olive oil over medium heat until rippling. Add the carrots to the oil and allow to cook until darkened on the outside, and just soft enough to pierce through with a fork. They should still be rather firm.

In a small, separate bowl, stir miso paste, sesame oil and maple syrup until mostly smooth. When the carrots have softened slightly and browned, turn off the heat, pour the syrup mixture over them and toss. 

Add the carrots to the preheated oven and cook for about 20 more minutes, turning them over halfway and checking their texture. The syrup will become darker and sticky, and the carrots should be browned on the outside, but softer and easier to pierce through all the way.

Take them out of the oven and sprinkle pepitas over them. Serve warm.

If you're wondering where to collect your ingredients for this week's holiday meal, consider shopping at the Ferry Building's special Thanksgiving Farmers Market this Wednesday, where you can source produce, meats, and other delectable bites directly from your farmers, ranchers, and producers, including our client, Ground Stew Farms. 

The original recipe can be found on Megan's blog, The Bay Leaf Kitchen. Photos courtesy of Megan Leaf.