I grew up hating baked carrots. The only kind I had ever eaten were super sweet, sickly, maple glazed carrots, baked until they were completely mushy. I can’t tell you how much I disliked those. Because of that, for a long time, any time anyone mentioned baked or roasted carrots I immediately explained that they were one of the few things that I didn’t like. Somehow though, I have been introduced to the real glory of roasted spiced carrots. Most of the time, they snuck onto my plate as a side dish at a restaurant (and I am more opposed to leaving food on my plate than eating some less than tasty vegetables). It’s also funny how much your tastes can change as you get older. Sometimes the version you had as a child is not a very good representation of what the dish could be and sometimes your taste buds just evolve (olives!). Either way, I try to remind myself to stay open to things that I think I hate, just in case something changes. The other night, I was reminded of the change in my opinion of roasted carrots when I went out to a spanish tapas restaurant and I had delicious roasted spiced carrots: perfectly spiced, ‘al dente’ and slathered in a flavourful sauce.
I have to admit that part of the glory of the dish is how beautiful it is. Let’s begin with the carrots. One of the pitfalls of our modern food production systems is how uniform everything looks. I don’t even remember when I learned that carrots existed in colors other than orange. The destruction of this diversity, from an emotional perspective (let alone the environmental perspective), really makes me sad. On the flip side, rediscovering some of the diversity at my local farmer’s markets or the local, organic grocery stores, makes my heart sing. I tend to literally stroke all of the different vegetables and fruit (I am not the most hygienically conscious market-goer), they’re so beautiful. Sometimes I find myself staring at the seeds inside of a pepper or at the concentric rings on a carrot and marvelling at how beautifully constructed so much of our food is. With a dish like this, I knew I had to find some local carrots that would be just as beautiful to look at as they were to eat. I was so happy when I peeled the carrots and their colors became even more vibrant: the pale yellow carrots, pale orange, bright orange, and orange-speckled purple.
Once slathered in the spices and roasted, the carrots take on a deeper hue and start to blacken. I wasn’t sure if they would all keep their color once they were cooked (in the past, I’ve noticed that some vegetables change colors after being cooked) but they did. I also love the wild rice mix that I used: filled with a variety of different grains that make this dish hearty and complete. The bed of rice is topped with the carrots, which are in turn topped with toasted, crunchy pumpkin seeds and pine nuts. The tahini, lemon, garlic sauce is the perfect light dressing for this dish. It adds the acidity and creaminess that it needs. Finally I found some garlic sprouts, but whatever you could find would work (for example, broccoli sprouts, alfalfa sprouts). They are fresh and I’ve always loved the texture of sprouts. For some reason, any time they were added to a sandwich it felt more special (maybe because we never really had them at home?). They also add a pop of green, which is the finishing touch on this dish that may be one of the prettiest I have ever made.
Depending on the size of your carrots you may want to roast them a little longer. When they are ready, they should be easily pierced with a fork but shouldn't be mushy. If you have carrots that are very different sizes, slice the larger ones so that they cook at the same time as the smaller ones.
This dish is difficult to reheat. If you plan on making it in advance, warm up the carrots and rice by steaming them gently in a large pan and keep the sauce, sprouts and seeds separately.
Preheat oven to 425F.
Line a baking tray with parchment paper.
In a small bowl, mix together paprika, cumin, fennel seeds, salt, oil.
Toss carrots in spice/oil mixture.
Lay carrots in one layer on the baking tray.
Roast carrots for 20-25 minutes until the carrots are tender but still have a firm texture.
Mix all ingredients together in a food processor.
Lay down rice, top with carrots, pumpkin seeds and pine nuts. Sprinkle with a couple small handfuls of alfalfa sprouts and drizzle generously with tahini sauce.
This dish is best served warm or at room temperature.
Roasted Spiced Carrots Recipe was last modified: December 20, 2015 by