As I was writing out the title for this recipe, I was wondering whether I should call it Tunisian Roasted Carrots, or just North African Spiced Roasted Carrots.
You see, I first came across the Tunisian Carrot Salad in a 22 year old Bon Appétit magazine. Back then, I wasn’t overly concerned about actual cooking regions, and ethnic cuisines. As long as it tasted good, I was happy. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that the spices in that original dish were classic Tunisian. Which really is just part of North Africa. As is Morocco, Egypt, Algiers etc. So they must all share a spice palate to a degree, right?!
So, taking that original recipe, a few years back I decided to apply the spices etc to roasted carrots, as opposed to a simmered-in-water-carrot salad. I adore roasted carrots, and when you use the smaller carrots, they have such a visual impact when serving them. But of course, if you only have larger carrots in the crisper, go ahead and roast them as well. Maybe just slice them in half crosswise and then lengthwise, so that they will roast up evenly and more quickly.
The carrots get doused in some olive oil and minced garlic and sprinkled with salt. While they are roasting away, a quick dressing is whipped up. Lemon juice (my favourite acid!) is flavoured with harissa, ground cumin, smoked sweet paprika and caraway seeds. When the carrots come out of the oven (okay, wait a minute or so), they get dressed with the lemon juice mixture- the heat from the carrots will allow the flavours to really soak into the carrots. Just before serving, garnish with freshly chopped herbs: parsley, cilantro, mint or even dill would work great. Use whatever you’d like. Or live life on the edge, and use a combo!
I use Entube Harissa paste for this ‘dressing’. It’s got the perfectly balanced kick. But if you can’t find it, you could also use powder.
Naturally you can serve this warm- In fact, add some hummus and pita, and this could easily be dinner for me. But if you have leftovers, you can serve these up later, at room temperature. Of course, if they do cool down a bit while you are working on the rest of dinner, you could serve them up at room temperature right from the start.
I always prepare these when I’m making my Lebanese Spiced Chicken. They work wonderfully together. And both of these dishes are incredible year round. There is a kick to both dishes, but not in an overpowering way. Add some rice or Lebanese Malfouf (cabbage) salad, and you have created a memorable meal. 🙂
Here’s a thought, if you wanted, you could also serve these up with a great spiced yogurt or labneh! Just take some cumin seeds, ground coriander and salt and pepper and stir it into a thick greek yogurt or labneh. This would totally be a great dinner. Sprinkle some walnuts or pistachios on top, and you’ve even got some protein. Now I’m hungry for this version!! Will definitely try it soon and let you know how it turned out.!
Harissa Spiced Tunisian Roasted Carrots
A wonderfully warm and yet bright dish of garlic roasted carrots with a dressing of lemon juice, caraway seeds, cumin and the kick from harissa paste. Perfect as a side dish, served hot or room temperature. Serve a spiced labneh over them and they become a meal unto themselves!
- 1 1/2 pounds carrots peeled (if possible, get the smaller carrots with the stems attached)
- 6 tbsp cup olive oil divided
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 3 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp Entube harissa paste can substitute with harissa powder
- 1 tsp whole caraway seeds
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp each kosher salt and cracked black pepper
- 1/2 tsp smoked sweet paprika
- 3 tbsp chopped dill cilantro, parsley or mint
Preheat the oven to 375°F
If the carrots are small, leave as is. If they are larger and thicker, cut in half crosswise and then in half lengthwise.
Toss the carrots with half of the olive oil and garlic in a baking dish. Sprinkle with about 1/2 tsp of kosher salt.
Roast in the oven for about 40 minutes or until the carrots are fork-tender. Remove to a wide dish. Watch them to make sure they aren't burning before cooking through. If that happens, drop the temperature to 350 and cover with tinfoil.
While the carrots are roasting, create a dressing by whisking together the lemon juice, remaining olive oil, harissa paste, caraway seeds, cumin, salt, pepper, and sweet paprika. Taste and re-season with more salt and pepper if needed. Ensure that the paste has dissolved evenly into the dressing.
Once the carrots have cooled just a touch, toss them with the dressing.
To serve, place the carrots in a serving dish and garnish with chopped herbs. You can serve immediately, or even serve them at room temperature.