Is there a more versatile vegetable than the humble carrot? You can find them juiced, grated into slaws, sliced for salads, folded into cakes,  shredded for muffins, served raw with dips, roasted, boiled, sauteed, pureed, and carved in miniature in baby carrot factories.  Every one of these preparations has a place in my kitchen, but nothing brings out carrots’ natural sweetness better than roasting them in a piping hot oven.

Last year for Easter, I did up a platter of roasted carrots seasoned with Middle Eastern spices and piled onto creamy yogurt. I’d venture to say it was the star of the Easter buffet and I’ve been tinkering with the recipe ever since. Today’s version has the added interest of harissa stirred into the yogurt. It’s a North African spice paste that, like Thai sriracha, Indian curry, or Mexican salsa, is a game changer for flavor with no effort at all.

Roasted Carrots

Now, about those carrots….everyone knows they’re good for you. But did you know that just one medium carrot provides double your daily needs for vitamin A, all at just 25 little calories? Plus, two grams of fiber and a meaningful dose of potassium as well.

As far as what variety to buy, I get the appeal of baby carrots — so easy and one of the healthiest, kid-friendly convenience foods out there — but they don’t hold a candle, taste-wise, to the carrots you find at your local market, a farmers’ market, or in a CSA box. Look for carrots that are vibrant in color, a signal of freshness, since the pigment fades over time.

For another favorite carrot recipe, check out this Creamy Carrot Mac and Cheese or head over to Cooking Light for their Carrot Cake Pancakes.

Roasted Carrots with Harissa Yogurt and Mint

If you buy organic carrots, scrubbing should get them sufficiently clean. If your carrots are conventionally grown, be sure to peel them instead. These are delicious alongside your favorite roast meat or poultry, but also tasty as part of a vegetarian meal.
Course Vegetable Side
Prep Time 15 minutes
Servings 4 to 6

Ingredients

  • 12 medium carrots (ideally with the greens still attached)
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground fennel
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, plus a pinch for the yogurt, divided
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 large lemon, divided
  • 3/4 cup lowfat plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon harissa paste (more if you like things extra spicy) See note
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
  2. Peel or scrub the carrots. If carrots have greens attached, cut off all but about 1/2 inch of the carrot tops. Put the carrots on a large baking sheet.

  3. In a small bowl, stir together the paprika, turmeric, fennel, cumin, coriander, 1/4 teaspoon salt, olive oil, and 1 tablespoon of juice from the lemon. Drizzle over the carrots and use your hands to roll the carrots in the spice mixture until evenly coated.
  4. Roast the carrots until they are just barely tender, 20 to 30 minutes depending on thickness. You should be able to pierce the fat end of the carrots with a fork with some resistance. They will continue to cook a bit after they're out of the oven.

  5. Whisk together the yogurt, harissa, and a pinch of salt in a small bowl. Take the half lemon and zest the peel right into the bowl. Stir. Spread onto a serving plate or small platter and top with the roasted carrots. Scatter the mint over the top.

Recipe Notes

Harissa is a spicy condiment sold in jars in some supermarkets, Whole Foods, and many specialty stores.

Roasted Carrots