DDD #73 – Vegan Roasted Beet & Balsamic Borscht

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2018

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

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This is a really easy & fresh & light dish.  It will likely render your kitchen a crime scene so be sure to wear an apron.  Most borscht is vegan so that isn’t really of note here – but I thought I’d point it out.  I topped mine with vegan yogurt here.  You could use a vegan sour cream or nothing.  If you do not add any creamy element – this is a guiltless soup.  The only thing in it with any calories worth talking about is a little olive oil but this make a lot of soup so the amount that ends up in a serving is very low.  You could lower it further by boiling the beets rather than roasting them but I think roasting adds a nice flavor.  This can be served hot or cold, too, which is a nice option to have.  I pureed the bulk of the soup & reserved a few cubes of beets for texture.  You could leave it chunky or puree it completely.  Your call!

Click the image below to watch the video on my channel.


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Vegan Roasted Beet & Balsamic Borscht

4 HUGE beets (or 10-12 small ones) – halved or quartered

4 carrots – chopped

1 red bell pepper – diced

4 celery stalks – chopped

1 onion – diced

4 garlic cloves – chopped

2 bay leaves

6 cups vegetable stock

2 tsp Marmite (optional)

1 TBS good quality balsamic vinegar

Olive oil

S&P

Fresh dill and/or scallions – as garnish

Vegan yogurt or vegan sour cream for garnish

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DIRECTIONS

Toss the beets in a bit of olive oil & salt & pepper liberally.  Roast on a foil-lined pan at 400 degrees for about an hour – or until easily pierced with a fork.  Set aside to cool.

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Heat 2 TBS olive oil in a large stock pot.  Saute the onion, celery, bell pepper & carrots over medium heat for about ten minutes or until they soften.  Add the bay leaves & garlic and saute another 2-3 minutes.  Add the stock & the marmite (if using) & simmer over medium-low heat.

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Peel half the beets & reserve the skins.  Cube the peeled beets and set aside.

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Chop the other half of the beets coarsely.   Add the skins & unpeeled beets to the soup pot.   Simmer for 5-10 minutes.

Remove the bay leaves & discard.  I used an immersion blender & pureed the soup.  You can do this in batches in a blender but be careful you do not get burned & be more careful that you don’t splatter magenta soup everywhere.

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Once pureed to your liking – add the reserved cubed beets & stir in the balsamic vinegar.  Season with S&P.

To serve – garnish liberally with vegan yogurt or sour cream and lots & lots of dill and maybe some diced scallions.  Eat it up!  Then curse the inevitable pink splatter you find in your kitchen hours after you were sure you cleaned the last of it.

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Vegan Roasted Fennel & Beets Salad with Arugula, Avocado, Pistachios & Goat Cheese

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2016

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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Fennel is a divisive vegetable.  The sharp licorice flavor is either something you love or hate, it seems.  But, as with garlic, the flavor of fennel mellows into something else entirely – when you roast it.  It becomes soft & sorta sweet & it compliments this salad nicely.

I used arugula but any mixed greens or baby spinach would work, too.  I added pistachios but any nuts would work – especially if you toasted them a bit first.

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I used this lovely blood orange olive oil but regular olive oil would work.  I used the dark balsamic – but white balsamic would be lovely, too.

And for the goat cheese – I used this stuff (below).   It has the texture of a soft goat cheese & was really delicious.  If you eat cheese – real goat cheese or feta would also work.

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Vegan Roasted Fennel & Beets Salad with Arugula, Avocado, Pistachios & Goat Cheese

Serves 2

INGREDIENTS

4-6 beets (red or golden – no matter)

1 large fennel bulb

2 fists full of arugula or other greens

1/4 cup pistachios

1 avocado – cubed

Vegan soft cheese (or real goat or feta cheese) – quantity up to you

Olive oil

Balsamic vinegar

S&P

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DIRECTIONS

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Wrap the beets in foil.  No need to even wash them – as that will happen later.  If they are large (mine were about the size of ping pong balls) – cut them into smaller chunks.

Cut the fronds off the fennel (saving some of the dilly leaves for garnish) & cut the bulb in half.  Place on a cooking sheet & drizzle with olive oil.

Place the beets in foil on the cooking sheet with the fennel & roast 30-45 minutes or until the vegetables are soft.  The beets might take longer than the fennel.

When the beets cool – wash them under running water & rub the skins off.  Cut into bite-sized pieces.

Slice up the fennel.

Place some greens on each plate.  Top with beets, fennel, avocado, pistachios & crumbled cheese. Drizzle with olive oil & balsamic.  Garnish with fennel leaves and S&P.

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Vegan Protein-Packed Red Quinoa Salad with Avocado, Arugula & Citrus-Balsamic Vinaigrette

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2016

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or just print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

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This salad is jam packed with protein (from the quinoa, black beans & chickpeas) and light & healthy & delicious.  The ingredients here are all optional – as is the case with all salads.   This recipe makes an enormous party-sized quantity so – either be prepared to feed a lot of people or to eat it every day for a while – or cut the recipe in half.  Do not dress the whole salad & do not add avocado until you are serving it.  That way – the salad will keep longer.  UPDATE 4-18-16:  Without the avocado & dressing on it – this salad stayed fresh in my fridge for a full week.

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Vegan Protein-Packed Red Quinoa Salad with Avocado, Arugula & Citrus-Balsamic Vinaigrette

Makes a boatload of salad – at least enough for 6 as an entree – more as a side

INGREDIENTS

for the salad

(these quantities are very flexible – so make your salad to taste)

3-4 cups cooked red (or other) quinoa (cooked according to directions & cooled)

1 English cucumber – diced

1 cup chopped cherry (or other) tomatoes (I used heirloom)

1 15-oz can black beans – drained & rinsed

1 15-oz can chickpeas – drained & rinsed

1/2 cup sliced black olives

1 red bell pepper – seeded & diced

3 scallions – sliced

1 cup corn (fresh cut from the cob is best but I used frozen)

1/2 red onion – diced

1/4 cup chopped cilantro (optional)

Avocado (as much or as little as you like – I used 1/2 avocado per serving) – cubed & lime juice squeezed on it

Arugula (optional – as a bedding)

for the citrus-balsamic vinaigrette

5 TBS of juice from lemons & limes (use either one or a combo of both for a total of 5 TBS)

1-3 garlic cloves – minced

2 TBS white (or other) balsamic vinaigrette

1/4 cup cilantro – chopped

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 tsp cumin

S&P to taste

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DIRECTIONS

Cook & cool your quinoa.  You can even rinse it in cold water & drain it to cool it quickly.

Whisk the dressing together & season to taste.

Toss all the salad ingredients – EXCEPT the avocado & arugula – and stir to combine.

If using arugula – put some on plates.  Top with quinoa salad & drizzle with dressing.  Top with avocado.

Shove it in your face & feel strong & healthy!

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Vegan Roasted Butternut, Kabucha & Delicata Squash with Pomegranate, Mint, Balsamic Glaze & Roasted Pepitas

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2015

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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I had managed to collect a variety of squash with no real plans for them.  Today – as I often do – I looked around for inspiration & came up with this.  It is gorgeous & light & delicious and can be served warm or room temperature.    I have leftover roasted squash & pepitas & if you end up with leftovers, too – consider cutting the skins off the squash & make a salad!  Toss with arugula & pomegranate seeds & pepitas & a balsamic vinaigrette (adding goat or feta – if you are a cheese eater) – OR – make a pizza with slices of squash atop a crust with some mozzarella (vegan or not – up to you) and then top the cooked pizza with arugula & pomegranate seeds & pepitas.  Lots of ways to use all these pretty colors & flavors.

This is not a difficult recipe.  The most painstaking parts are seeding the pomegranate (or you could buy pomegranate seeds) and roasting the pepitas (you could buy roasted pepitas).  It is far more satisfying to do it all from scratch.

I used three kinds of squash.  You can use all one kind or choose different kinds – but use ones that all have thick skins so the cook at the same rate.

Speaking of which – I tossed the seeds from all 3 squash into the same bowl to clean & roasted them together.  In the future – I will keep the kabucha seeds separate – as they are far larger than the others.  I will put the smaller seeds on one cooking sheet & the larger on another – so I can take each out of the oven at the rate they are ready.

The ratio of ingredients here is kind of up to you.  You might like more or less glaze, more or less pomegranate or pepitas or mint – so – assemble yours to taste.

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Roasted Pepitas

Seeds from the squash

Fine salt

Olive oil or cooking spray (I used olive oil spray)

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DIRECTIONS

Heat the oven to about 325.

Get a large bowl of water & put the messy seed mix in there.  Separate the seeds from the flesh & the seeds all float to the top.  Use a slotted spoon & get those suckers outta there.

Boil some water & add a tsp of salt.  Lower the heat, add the seeds &  simmer the seeds, uncovered, for about 10 minutes & then drain them.

I let them set out to dry a bit & then tossed them with just a hint of olive oil or some cooking spray.  If you have two wildly different sized seeds – cook them on separate sheets so you can take the smaller ones out sooner than the larger.

Spread them on a cooking sheet in as thin a layer as you can – trying to minimize overlap so all the seeds get heat equally.  Sprinkle with a little salt & bake for about 10 minutes.

Take them out & stir them around.

Now continue roasting in 5 minute increments because you DO NOT want to burn these.  They are done when they are just starting to look golden but the real test is how they chew.  So – cool a few off each time you test them & eat them.  They are done when they chew easily & are nice & crunchy!

Save extras in a jar.

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Vegan Roasted Butternut, Kabucha & Delicata Squash with Pomegranate, Mint, Balsamic Glaze & Roasted Pepitas

6-10 as a side – depending on the size of your squash & appetites

INGREDIENTS

3 squash of your choice (I used butternut, kabucha & delicata)

Roasted seeds from your squash (recipe to roast them above)

Balsamic glaze (store bought or homemade – recipe:  Simply boil a balsamic until it reduces by about 50-75% and has a thick syrupy texture.  It really does reduce a LOT so – if it reduces to too little for your squash – just reduce some more.  If it gets too thick – add a few drops of water.)

Pomegranate seeds

Fresh mint – chopped

Olive oil or cooking spray (I used olive oil spray)

S&P

Parchment paper optional but it makes clean-up so easy!

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Heat the oven to 425.

Seed the squash & put the seeds in a bowl of water.  If there is a large disparity of size – separate them in different bowls by size.  I did mine altogether but I risked burning the smallest seeds waiting for the large kabocha seeds to cook.  It worked out – but I would still separate them next time.

Cut the squash into 1″ to 1.5″ inch slices.  Arrange on a cooking sheet.  Toss with olive oil (or spray with cooking spray on both sides) – and add some S&P.

Roast about 30 minutes – flipping once – or until they are soft & beginning to caramelize or brown a bit.

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If you are using homemade glaze – make that while the squash cook.  Simply boil a balsamic until it reduces by about 50-75% and has a thick syrupy texture.  It really does reduce a LOT so – if it reduces to too little for your squash – just reduce some more.  If it gets too thick – add a few drops of water.  If you like a lot of glaze – start with at least a cup or more before you reduce it.

Seed your pomegranate.

When the squash is done, arrange it on a platter.  Drizzle glaze & then sprinkle the pomegranate, pepitas & mint on top.

Gorgeous & healthy.  Wow the villagers with this shit!

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Vegan Creamy Polenta Bowl with Roasted Beets, Toasted Walnuts, Thyme & Balsamic Glaze

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2015

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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Once again, I created a dish out of an effort to use what I had on hand and, I must admit, I am quite delighted.  I had a bag of polenta from the bulk section at Lassen’s (a store that is a wonderland of healthy foods but 1) mixes meat & vegan items in the same cases & it can get confusing and 2) is SO FUCKING claustrophobic that I am in a mild panic the whole time I am there).  I also had some roasted beets I needed to use.  Voila!

I am a huge fan of both polenta & grits (grits being the same thing, really, but just not as finely ground).  I especially like them creamy & soft – like a porridge.  Most polenta & grits recipes have cheese in them & you can certainly add cheese but this didn’t need it.  AND – I cooked the polenta in my slow cooker while I went spinning this morning!  I came home, exhausted, to a vat of steaming, creamy polenta.  Win win!

If you are not vegan, some crumbled goat cheese on this would be divine!  Actually – they make lots of vegan cheeses that are like goat cheese or Boursin & a little bit of one of those might be a nice addition to this dish.   If you don’t like or don’t have walnuts – I think pistachios would be better, anyway – I just didn’t have any.  Oh – and polenta is naturally gluten-free.  This is a very low fat recipe but is warm & hearty & great for winter weather.  If you really want to get all cold-weather crazy – stir a small can of pumpkin puree into the polenta.   Yuuuum!

I used this balsamic glaze (below) but a balsamic reduction is VERY easy to make.

BALSAMIC REDUCTION

Simply boil a nice balsamic until it reduces by about 50-75% and has a thick syrupy texture.  It really does reduce a LOT so – if it reduces to too little for your pizza – just boil down some more.  Be careful not to burn it! I used about a tablespoon of the reduction on this polenta.

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Vegan Creamy Polenta Bowl with Roasted Beets, Toasted Walnuts, Thyme & Balsamic Glaze

This makes enough polenta to feed 4 easily.  The quantity of the toppings is up to you.

INGREDIENTS

2 cups dry polenta

8 cups vegetable stock

Beets

Walnuts (or pistachios)

Fresh thyme removed from stems

Balsamic glaze (see recipe above if you want to make it yourself)

(Adding vegan goat cheese – or any other very soft cheese) at the end with the beets & nuts would take this to the next level.  Fried sage – in place of the thyme – might also be nice.)

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DIRECTIONS

Heat the oven to 425 degrees.

I cooked my polenta in a slow cooker by simply putting the polenta & stock in there, setting it on high (cover on) and two hours later – I had a lot of creamy goodness.  If it gets too thick, add more water or stock.  If it is too thin – cook a bit longer (taking the top off accelerates this process).

OR – cook your polenta according to the package (using stock rather than water).  Stove top – this should take 30-40 minutes.

Wrap beets well in foil. You might want to drizzle a bit of olive oil in there but that is not necessary.  Place on a baking sheet and bake until beets are slightly soft to the touch, 45 minutes to 1 hour depending on their size. Cool beets and then rub off skins (use a paring knife for tough spots).

Toast the nuts in a dry pan for 2-3 minutes – stirring frequently so they do not burn.  Set aside.

Now – assemble your bowls.  Spoon in the polenta, top with beets & nuts & a drizzle of balsamic glaze & some thyme leaves.  Add cheese – if you are using some.  I did not.

Eat’m up!

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Peach & Tomato Caprese Pizza with Mozarella, Basil & Balsamic Reduction

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2015

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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That photo above has nothing to do with this recipe.  But – I bought figs at the farmer’s market the other day & they photograph so gorgeously – I could not resist snapping this pic of them & that lush hunk of Saint Andre.  Dairy is something I am increasingly cutting out of my diet but – holy mother of God – that that cheese on some crusty bread & topped with a fig?  Criminy! I am desperate for vegan cheese to do what vegan meats (especially Beyond Meat) have done – namely – evolve into a really great vegan alternative to cruelty-based foods.

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So – my boss gave me a perfectly ripe peach the other day.  I let it sit, in all its aromatic glory, on my desk all day as I pondered what to do with it.  I then remembered that I had homemade pizza dough in the fridge & from that fact alone – this pizza was born.  At the end of the work day, I sauntered out, proudly declaring that a peach pizza was about to happen – and happen it did.

I wasn’t sure if I would like hot peach pizza so I decided to hedge my bet a bit & made this a twofer.  I did not have Gorgonzola or goat cheese – cheeses that might cut the sweet of the peach so I decided to drizzle it with a balsamic reduction.  I am happy to announce that the peach side was even more delicious than the traditional side.  I did not cook the peach at all first but you could grill yours first if you want to maybe give the pizza that extra layer of flavor. It is completely unnecessary, though.

BALSAMIC REDUCTION

Simply boil a nice balsamic until it reduces by about 30-75% and has a thick syrupy texture.  It really does reduce a LOT so – if it reduces to too little for your pizza – just boil down some more.  Be careful not to burn it! I used about a tablespoon of the reduction on this pizza.

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Peach & Tomato Caprese Pizza with Mozarella, Basil & Balsamic Reduction

Serves as many as you like – depending on how much dough & ingredients you have

INGREDIENTS

(the amount of each is up to your personal taste)

Pizza dough (I used this one)

Peaches – pitted & sliced 1/4 inch thick

Tomato sauce (I used Rao’s Arrabbiata)

Fresh mozzarella (or vegan alternative) – sliced

Fresh Basil

Cherry or grape tomatoes – quartered (optional)

Balsamic reduction (recipe above in bold)

Parchment paper (optional)

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DIRECTIONS

Heat the oven to 500 degrees & be sure it reaches temperature before putting your pizza in there.

Make the balsamic reduction.  Set aside.

Cover a cooking sheet with parchment paper.  And old metal pan.  Pizza stones suck.  PARCHMENT PAPER is magic.  Or – grease a cooking sheet with cooking spray or olive oil.

Roll the dough out & put it on the pan.  Spread sauce on one half of the pizza & arrange the peach slices on the other.  Top with cheese.  Cook until it is the way you like it – typically 10-15 minutes.  Top with basil & cherry tomatoes & drizzle the peach side (or both sides) with the balsamic.

Voila!

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Roasted Rainbow Carrots with Thyme & Balsamic Glaze

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2015

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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I belong to a produce delivery service called Farm Fresh to You.  I get a box of custom-selected veggies every two weeks & the standout items so far have been their carrots!  Whew knew?  SO sweet and the texture is wonderful – unlike the almost bitter & very hard store-bought carrots I have been experiencing recently.  These carrots are DELICIOUS & it is nearly impossible to bite into one & not eat the whole thing.  Good news, though!  You CAN eat the whole thing.  Eat the whole bunch.  They are just carrots, for fuck’s sake.  Go friggin’ crazy!

Anyway – my last box had this little bunch of rainbow carrots it it.

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They get even prettier when you peel them.  The color combination looked so autumnal – roasting them with some earthy thyme & sweet balsamic glaze just seemed like the way to go – so I did just that!  Takes about 20 minutes or so – depending on the size of your carrots.  Easy & delicious!

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Roasted Rainbow Carrots with Thyme & Balsamic Glaze

Serves 2 as a side

INGREDIENTS

1 small bunch of rainbow or other carrots

1 tsp olive oil

S&P

Fresh thyme

1/2 cup or more of Balsamic vinegar

Parchment paper (optional)

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DIRECTIONS

Heat the oven to 425.

Peel the carrots & cut any thick ones in half.  Leave thin ones whole.  Toss with olive oil and S&P until they are evenly coated.  Put on a roasting pan (topped with parchment paper – if you have it).   Sprinkle with fresh thyme leaves – maybe a tablespoon or two.  Roast 10 minutes.

Meanwhile – basically boil the balsamic until it thickens.  It thickens quickly & reduces very fast so be careful not to burn it.  If it gets too thick – just add more balsamic.  The thickness of the glaze is up to you.

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When it is thick even – drop a few thyme leaves into it.

After 10 minutes, flip the carrots & then drizzles most of the balsamic glaze onto them – reserving a little (or make more for later).  Roast another ten minutes (more or less – depending on how well you want the carrots cooked).    Drizzle with remaining balsamic glaze, maybe sprinkle more fresh thyme leaves on them & serve.

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