I’ll be honest, I’m not really a roasted carrot person. In a salad, sure. But as a side dish on its own, not so much. I feel like they’re pretty boring. So when I started playing around with these za’atar roasted carrots, I didn’t have the highest of hopes. Which is why this recipe blows me away even more.
If you’ve never worked with za’atar before, this is the perfect recipe to get familiar with one of my favorite flavor profiles. Za’atar is a traditional east Mediterranean spice blend, usually containing toasted sesame seeds, thyme, marjoram, and sumac. I typically buy a premade blend at my local Whole Foods, but also love this blend from The Spice House here in Chicago that you can buy online. This spice combination is warm and earthy and works great with roasted vegetables.
The star of these za’atar roasted carroats though is the carrot top pesto, inspired by a dish I had at one of my favorite restaurants, Gjelina, in Venice CA. We had Easter dinner at Gjelina this past year and I have to say it was one of the most memorable and special dinners of my life. We were seated at the large rustic table on the second floor and we were the only ones there. The sun was shining in on us, the kids were all in a good mood reading their books. The music was great, the service was relaxed and warm and the food was out of this world.
When we got back home I immediately ordered their cookbook and found the pesto they had on the carrots we ate that evening, and I’ve been making it ever since. It uses pumpkin seeds, a little orange zest, and of course the beautiful greens of the carrots.
To balance it all out I added a simple yogurt sauce that has a touch of lemon and a sprinkle of za’atar. Just a little element to cool it all off and balance out the hearty, earthy textures.
This simple recipe is a fun twist on what can normally feel like a boring side dish. It’s easy to put together, looks gorgeous on any spring table, and is absolutely delicious. For sure my new “go-to” spring side dish.
Another great fall recipe you may like is this easy roasted sweet potatoes and kale salad with a ginger maple dressing.
(Lill and I ate Gjenlina this past year)