20/20 Carrots

They might not improve your vision, but they sure taste good.

For the longest time, I was both proud and perhaps a bit smug that I was the only person in my entire family — extended included — who did not need glasses.

That’s quite the achievement, too, considering how many Asians tend to be myopic.

I thought I had escaped that fate, as I remained spectacle-free through my teens, despite the fact that my parents, brothers, cousins, aunts and uncles all grew up wearing those familiar round or cat-eyed black, plastic frames.

My dreams came to an abrupt end, though, when my older brother Dale took me to the Department of Motor Vehicles one day to get my driver’s license. I had studied the manual like crazy so that I’d do well on the written and driving tests. But who knew it was the simple eye test that would do me in?

I guess I should have known what was in store as I stood in line and stared at the eye chart hanging some feet away behind the counter. As hard as I squinted, I still could barely make out anything on it. Once I got closer, though, I thought surely I would. My brother even coaxed me to get out of line, inch closer to the counter and try to memorize the chart before my turn was called. I did give that a try. But as luck would have it, they closed the line that I was in, and shifted us to another line — with a totally different eye chart. Curses!

Needless to say, when it was finally my turn, I strained mightily to see the chart, and called out letters I thought I saw — only to fail miserably. I did not collect $200. I did not pass “Go.” I didn’t even get to take the written test. And forget about any behind-the-wheel shot that day. Mortifyingly, I was sent home with the advice to see an eye doctor, then return another time.

Sigh. A lot of good all those carrots did all my life, huh? Carrots are one vegetable that I’ve always loved. As a child, I might have balked at eating mushy frozen lima beans or wincing bitter melon, but carrots I never turned down.

After all, with their natural sweetness, they’re irresistible. Even more so, too, when they’re coated with a little maple syrup, as in this dish of  “Maple Mustard and Tahini Glazed Carrots.”

The recipe is from the new cookbook, “Clean Start” (Sterling) by Terry Walters, of which I recently received a review copy.  Walters is a proponent of local, sustainable, healthful eating. The 100 vegetarian recipes in the book reflect that philosophy.

To make this simple side dish, cook whole baby carrots in a saute pan of water until tender. Then, mix together the sauce ingredients of maple syrup, whole grain mustard, tahini and lemon juice. Toss carrots in sauce and serve.

The sauce thickens quite a bit as it sits, so I think I might add a tablespoon of water to loosen it up a bit more the next time.

Enjoy these carrots with their sweet, tangy, nutty glaze. I sure did — even while wearing my contact lenses. Sigh.

Maple Mustard and Tahini Glazed Carrots

(Serves 4)

1 pound baby carrots

Sea salt

2 tablespoons maple syrup

1 tablespoon whole grain mustard

1 teaspoon tahini

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon of water, optional

Wash carrots and trim leafy greens, leaving about 1/2 inch of their stems. Fill large saute pan with 1 inch of water and bring to a boil. Stir in generous pinch of salt and place carrots side by side in water. Cook until just soft and water is nearly evaporated (about 6 minutes, depending on size of carrots). Remove from heat, drain remaining water and set aside.

In a small pan over medium heat, whisk together maple syrup, mustard, tahini, lemon juice and water, if using. Season to taste with salt and remove from heat.

Return carrots in skillet to medium heat and add maple mustard dressing. Saute 1-2 minutes to coat carrots and heat through. Dressing will thicken slightly. Remove from heat and serve.

Note: If you can’t find baby carrots, you can use regular carrots. Just cut into sticks or rounds. Or mix with sliced parsnips. For an even bigger change, substitute grated fresh horseradish root for the tahini.

Adapted from “Clean Start” by Terry Walters

More Veggie Side Dishes: Green Bean Salad with Pickled Shallots

And: Sauteed Shiitake Mushrooms with Sage

And: See’s Scotch Kiss Sweet Potatoes

And: Microwave Potato Chips

And: Ad Hoc’s Leek Bread Pudding

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  • A beautiful side dish! I really love the use of tahini in that recipe. Pretty carrots.



  • Hah. I ate carrots willingly as a kid and I still got glasses in 3rd grade.

  • I loved carrots growing up too! But I was born in the year of the rabbit so it was a given. πŸ˜‰ I actually like the crunch of carrots so I might use this glaze as a dressing by adding olive oil. Love the variety of colors in carrots you got in your picture. That’s the great thing about farmers market carrots in California.

  • the glaze with maple, mustard, and tahini sounds wonderful with the carrots.

  • A lovely side dish! I also love the yellow & purple carrots a lot! I love this tasty dish! Yummie,…:)

  • I’ve always loved munching on baby carrots but haven’t been a fan of cooked carrots. I do like them in pot pies and noodle soup though! Sadly I started getting near-sighted at the ripe age of 5 and my eyes just progressively got worse through my teenage years. As luck had it, I became the perfect candidate for Lasik in my early 20’s and it was the best thing I ever did!

  • LOL with the glasses!! My dream is still alive as I am shortsighted on one eye and longsighted on the other with only a very slight power index, so the optometrist said I may not need reading glasses for a while yet πŸ™‚ Love these carrot especially the purple ones. The have such beautiful patterns too if you shave them crosswise with a mandoline.

  • I’m proud to be the only one who doesn’t wear glasses as well! I love vegetables but normally eat them plain, so I think this lovely dressing would be a bit of a luxury.

  • I’m not sure that I am 20/20 but I can perfectly see how delicious those carrots are. Tahini, maple and mustard.. what a great combo!

  • I never knew that carrots came in different colors. Do they all taste the same?

  • Carrots were one of the things I didn’t like growing up, but I love now! But you know, if my mom had made carrots that looked like this, I think it would have been different back then. πŸ˜‰

  • Those colorful carrots look delicious whether they help with vision or not! The sauce sounds fantastic with them too.

  • I love carrots. Especially fresh. Carrots are so inexpensive that you can buy the fanciest ones and still not spend a lot.

    I developed a good carrot soup recipe y’all might want to try: http://feedme.typepad.com/my_weblog/2008/08/fresh-carrot-soup-1.html

    But the coolest is this pseudo-sous-vide recipe that uses carrots in a bag in the microwave and the sudden expansion of the bag to signal perfect doneness. From Top Chef Michael Voltaggio:


    I haven’t tried it yet but will soon.

  • i’m the only one in my family who needs vision correction, so that’s a stinker. i’m also the only one who needed braces. the hits just keep coming. πŸ™‚
    i LOVE maple on carrots–nice recipe!

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