I’ve been thinking about Fourth of July recipes that I would share if I weren’t socially distancing, which I still will be late next week, as NYC moves further into phase 2 of reopening. It’ll be a different holiday this year, but just as I observed my birthday with birthday cake and my mother’s birthday with carrot cake, I’ll still make it a long weekend of festive, summery recipes. These sweet and smoky glazed carrot dogs included.
This was my first time making carrot dogs, a recipe I’ve seen a bunch of times and mentally bookmarked to try myself. I love carrots, and while I’m usually a fan of more authentically meat-like foods appearing between hot dogs and burger buns, I smiled at the idea of this veggie-forward version of the classic cookout dish. I was really happy with the way that they turned out, and while I probably won’t forgo the meatier versions anytime soon, I’m happy to add these into my rotation.
Making a carrot dog is as simple as putting a cooked carrot into a hot dog bun. The fun is in how you season, cook, and garnish the carrot! I wanted to make carrots that were flavorful, but not so boldly flavored that they couldn’t be enhanced by a vibrant sauce. I got inspired by Dorie Greenspan’s sweet and smoky roasted carrots on Food52, which I’ve had bookmarked for a while now. In that recipe, they’re served as a centerpiece, on a bed of Greek yogurt, but I figured that an adapted version would taste pretty great with an herbaceous sauce. And it does.
The carrots aren’t exactly roasted low and slow, but they do stay in the oven for a while: mine were in there for a full hour. It’s important to glaze the carrots with the marinade once or twice while they roast (I glazed mine with a basting brush at 20 and 40 minutes), so that they continue to absorb flavor and get that sticky, sweet glazed texture and darkening. You’ll have some burnt on your baking sheet as they finish cooking, but parchment makes it easy to clean.
The marinade here is a mix of cider vinegar, vegetable oil, smoked paprika (and plenty of it), Bragg’s liquid aminos, and maple syrup. The sauce could be modified in a lot of ways: white vinegar could work in place of cider, tamari could replace liquid aminos, and agave could stand in for maple syrup. If you have liquid smoke at home, that’ll work in place of the smoked paprika.
I used 8 medium sized carrots, which was about a pound and a quarter. You’ll probably have some marinade leftover as you roast the carrots, but it’s better to have a little leftover than to run out.
Once the carrot dogs have finished roasting, enjoying them is as easy as toasting and splitting some hot dog buns! But they can be enhanced and made more colorful and fun to eat with a killer sauce. I used my delightfully green tahini dressing, which is bright and lemony and perfect for summer. My cashew queso, yum sauce, cilantro lime sauce, or even the melty cheese sauce from my pantry grilled cheese would all work well.
If you’re not in the mood to make a sauce, a squiggle of ketchup or mustard would be completely fine, too. So would a sprinkle of fresh, chopped herbs. I added extra parsley to my dogs after I’d finished making the green tahini dressing.
The Fourth of July came a little early in my home, but I’ve been enjoying the leftovers of this sweet and savory meal all week at lunchtime. Hope you’ll have a chance to try them at some point, too. Definitely not a traditional hot dog—a little lighter, more nutrient-dense and colorful—but really satisfying in its own, creative way.
Happy Thursday, friends. See you again soon, for the weekend roundup.