Ina Garten's Roasted Carrot Salad Has A Hint Of Autumn Sweetness

Ina Garten's take on a warm, roasted carrot salad is the perfect dish to combine summer's fresh summer greens with the abundance of root vegetables that come with the fall season. Garten's recipe comes from her cookbook, "Cooking for Jeffrey," and is the perfect bite for the transitional weather. But to give her salad an extra autumnal flair, Garten uses maple syrup on her carrots. This brings in a comforting, sweet flavor and perfectly contrasts the bitter bite from the other ingredients in the salad such as arugula.

Ten minutes before the carrots complete their roasting, Garten pulls the tray out of the oven and drizzles a generous amount of maple syrup across them. The carrots then go back into the oven for the remaining 10 minutes. This allows the maple syrup to caramelize and be absorbed by the carrots, resulting in a delicious flavor and sticky texture. When you cook maple syrup, the water evaporates, leaving you with a more potent flavor and sticky texture. You'll know the carrots are done once the maple syrup coating has begun to turn brown. After you pull the carrots out of the oven, be sure to hit them with a final layer of salt to help highlight the sweetness.

Additional fall add-ins for the salad

Garten also incorporates cooked cranberries into the salad. This optional, but delicious, ingredient brings another layer of autumn flavor and offers a tart contrast to the sweetness of the maple syrup. Garten combines orange juice and cranberries in a pan and brings it to a simmer to cook down the orange juice. The bright pop of citrus from the orange juice brings out the flavors of the other ingredients in the dish. Garten recommends adding the cranberries in with the liquid but if you're worried about your salad becoming soggy, you can skip this step.

Garten's salad features a simple olive oil and vinegar dressing. But if you're looking to put your own spin on the recipe and really go in on the maple syrup element of this dish, consider opting for a maple syrup-focused salad dressing. One of the best parts of cooking is learning how to adapt meals and polish your cooking style. This maple-mustard vinaigrette mimics the original flavor profile of Garten's vinaigrette with the addition of maple syrup while still bringing in new flavors that can transform the dish. This ensures you get a hint of that smoky, maple flavor in every bite of the salad. Be sure to taste your vinaigrette before adding it to your salad to prevent a maple syrup overload. But if you get the ratios right you'll have a complementary salad dressing that highlights the autumn flavor profile of your meal.