Brined Grilled Carrots with Cilantro-Yogurt Sauce
Why This Recipe Works
by Sasha Marx
By now we’ve all experienced firsthand how brining can transform lean, easy-to-overcook cuts of meat and poultry into juicy, well-seasoned showstoppers. Great—now that we’ve got that covered, it’s time to brine your vegetables. Seriously. We love grilling whole young carrots and serving them at a barbecue or a fancy dinner, but let’s face it: They are really tricky to season evenly. Dusting raw carrots with salt is like throwing a tennis ball at a garage door—it just bounces right off. You can coat them in fat to give the salt something to stick to, but that seasoning will only be skin deep.
Enter brining. Just 45 minutes in a salty bath (we found that an 8 percent salt solution worked best) changes the vegetable-grilling game. Unlike with meat, where we brine to add water, increase tenderness, and season, our goal here is primarily seasoning (though the carrots do soften slightly in the brine so they’ll cook a bit faster). The salt diffuses into the carrots, so instead of a layer of intense salt surrounding a bland interior, we get carrots that taste more like themselves. Not salty. Carrot-y. After they come out of the brine, we grill them quickly over a hot fire to develop char and smoky flavor without sacrificing crunch. Drizzled with a bright, slightly spicy cilantro-yogurt sauce and sprinkled with peanuts and fresh herbs, these carrots might just become your new favorite side dish to bust out during grilling season.
Photography by Steve Klise