Berbere Butter Braised Carrots with Polenta

Close-up image of a white bowl with polenta and topped with orange braised carrots.

This post is in partnership with California Grown.

During these times, I’m relying on vegetables that store well and cook easily. These braised carrots are extremely flexible in terms of assembly. Swap out the polenta, change up the spices, even make it vegan!

California Grown Carrots

It’s no secret that I really love carrots. I think they are such a versatile vegetable given about the only wrong way to cook a carrot is to overcook it (unless you’re making puree!) Luckily living in California, I have a year-round supply thanks to growing conditions in the San Joaquin Valley and Southern California. These two regions grow roughly 80% of all carrots grown in the United States.

Polenta and other options

The polenta, in this dish, is merely a vessel to eat these carrots. It’s lovely but not necessary. The first time I thought of this recipe, I served the carrots on top of coconut rice. But really, any grain base would work well, maybe with a swoosh of hummus!


Most of this recipe can be done without the dairy. However, the butter with the carrots is not to be missed. If you’re able, pick up a vegan butter (I recommend Miyokos). If you’re trying to work with what you have, a little olive oil with work as well.

Side photograph of white bowl with yellow polenta topped with orange braised carrots and parsley.


Go wild here. Top with a fried egg, some crispy tofu, or even a nice drizzle of herb oil. You could even toss chickpeas or white beans in with the carrots and butter at the end.


Try this with different spice mixes. Ras el Hanout would be equally as lovely. A curry blend would work as well. If your spice cabinet is a bit bare, look for a bit of ground cumin and coriander.


Close-up image of a white bowl with polenta and topped with orange braised carrots.

Berbere Butter Braised Carrots with Polenta




2 cups water

½ cup dry polenta

Pinch of salt

½ cup grated parmesan 


2 medium carrots

3 tablespoons butter, divided

1 garlic clove, minced

1 to 2 teaspoons berbere spice blend

Salt, as needed (see note)

Zest from half a lemon (see note)


Parsley, minced

Toasted Pistachios, chopped


  • To start, bring the water to a boil in a pot. Add the polenta, whisking while you pour until the polenta comes together. Add a pinch of salt, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook for about 30 minutes. Whisk occasionally until the polenta has thickened and the flavor has mellowed. Remove from heat and whisk in the parmesan cheese.
  • Prepare the carrots: Peel the carrots and cut into ½” thick slices. Place a pan (with lid available) over medium heat. Add in 1 tablespoon butter and melt. Add in the carrots and cook until the carrots start to soften, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and berbere spice, cooking for another minute. 
  • Cover the bottom of your pan with ¼” worth of water. Cover the pan, reduce the heat to low, and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, checking the carrots occasionally (the time will depend on how thickly cut your carrots are). When the carrots are just-tender, remove the lid, and increase the heat to burn off remaining liquid. When there’s just a small bit of liquid left, turn off the heat and add in the remaining two tablespoons of butter and lemon zest. Swirl around the pan and let melt.
  • To serve, divide the polenta into two bowls. Top with the carrots and finish with a sprinkle of minced parsley and toasted pistachios.



I didn’t mention lemon zest in the video. This was a late addition to the recipe but one not to miss.

two white bowls of yellow polenta topped with orange braised carrots

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