Cast Iron Carrots with Curry & Cilantro

April 7, 2014 • Recipes, Seasons, Side Dishes, Spring, Vegetarian

Weather: 30 degrees, foggy
What I’m listening to: Called Me Higher, All Sons & Daughters

I’ve been watching cooking shows since I was a kid, before Food Network was even a thing. A great deal of my culinary education can be credited to chefs I’ve watched on television, as they’ve imparted to me their techniques, their knowledge, and their passion. Although I’ve never traveled the world and enjoyed far-flung cuisines or learned from cooks in distant kitchens (yet), I can tell you what geoduck is (for example) – where it’s found, how it’s pronounced, how to clean and prepare it, and even how it’s supposed to taste – all thanks to the incredible education that is food television.  I’ve seen so many cooking shows over the years that I’ve lost track. But there are always the ones that stand out for me, the memorable ones, the ones to which I return again and again. These chefs become voices in my head as I cook and characters at my table, informing my techniques and broadening my palate.

So, when I say to you that I have a new favorite cooking show and a new favorite television food personality, I am very, very serious about my recommendation. This is no joke, guys. Stop whatever it is that you’re doing and watch Heartland Table with Amy Thielen on Food Network. Set up your DVR to record it on Saturday mornings. I’m not even kidding. Trust me.

I love the feel of her humble, rustic kitchen, the effortless way she teaches you something new without even meaning to, her honest, simple approach to ingredients and food, and her rich family heritage of home cooks and heirloom recipes that very naturally, casually shape the narrative of her show. Perhaps more than all of that, I love the way she talks about food. One day, she referred to perfectly whipped potatoes as the texture of a fresh snow drift and I just about died and went to heaven. Yes. Yes. Absolutely yes. Why haven’t I ever thought of that? Perfection.


These carrots are one of Amy’s recipes from the show. Using a hot cast iron skillet caramelizes the carrots on the outside and brings out their natural earthiness and sweetness. The insides of the carrots stay perfectly crisp-tender; I used local Alaska grown carrots for this, bias-cut in big hearty bites with lots of surface for making a connection with the hot pan. Add a little curry powder for depth and heat and finish with bright, fresh cilantro and coarse salt. Done and done. Thank you, Heartland Table.

Cast Iron Carrots with Curry & Cilantro

Carrots cooked in a hot cast iron skillet with curry and cilantro. Adapted from [Amy Thielen via Food Network|].

Yields: 2-4 side dish servings

  • 3 tablespoons avocado oil or coconut oil
  • 2 pounds carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks on the bias
  • coarse salt, to taste
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • ¼ cup cilantro, roughly chopped

Heat oil in a cast iron skillet on medium-high heat. You want the pan nice and hot.

Carefully lay the carrots in the hot pan in an single layer, allowing the carrots to make as much contact with the hot surface as possible. Sprinkle with a generous pinch of salt and the ½ teaspoon pepper. Cook the carrots about 8-10 minutes, turning every few minutes, until they are caramelized, browned and crisp tender. In the last minute of cooking, sprinkle on the curry powder and stir to coat and allow the curry powder to toast in the oil and become fragrant. Remove the carrots from the heat, sprinkle with cilantro and more coarse salt as needed. Serve promptly.