Coffee And Carrots Make A Tastier Pair Than You Might Have Expected

The mesmerizing smell of coffee beans alone is evidence enough that it can add flavor to more than just a cup of joe. Even if you're not a coffee drinker, you've probably enjoyed it in other dishes, from espresso-infused mocha brownies to coffee-rubbed steaks. Coffee's intense flavor usually pairs best with equally robust flavors like meat, chocolate, or alcohol. However, coffee and carrots are a culinary pairing that breaks the mold in delicious fashion.

Roasting carrots amplifies their flavor while adding a caramelized sweetness that you can layer with other flavors. Common flavor pairings include spicy aromatics like garlic and chili powder, smoked paprika, or earthy herbs like rosemary and thyme. Coffee may not be on that list, but it's the ultimate aromatic — its flavor is literally an extension of its aroma.

Roasting coffee and carrots together converts coffee's tantalizing scent into a subtle yet unique flavor that compliments roasted carrots' sweetness just as well — or better — than traditional flavoring agents. This unlikely pairing will add sophistication and complexity to an otherwise simple side dish. You'll get the sweet and savory roasted carrot flavor you crave, but finished with an elegant hint of coffee.

Carrots and coffee are roasted similarly

It's a well-known fact among coffee roasters that slow-roasting coffee beans maximizes their depth of flavor. This also rings true for meats like slow-roasted ribs and brisket, roasting for hours and intensifying their savory flavor while also absorbing flavors from the wood used to generate smoke. Coffee-roasted carrots combine these same methods of slow-roasting coffee beans with flavor absorption — the only difference is that carrots absorb the beans' oil instead of smoke.

To make the dish, first place a layer of coffee beans on a hot cast iron skillet to jumpstart the release of their oils. Toss your carrots with olive oil and seasonings, then place them atop the coffee beans. Cover with foil and slow-roast at a low temperature for a few hours, allowing the aromatic oils from the coffee beans to seep into the carrots. While it may take longer than your average roasted carrots recipe, you can set your timer and leave the carrots unattended without having to constantly check to see if they're burning. The end result will be unexpectedly delicious with the potential to convert any skeptic.