Sweet and spicy carrots

Sweet and spicy carrots are the shining light of this dinnertime side dish. Carrots are more than just a vegetable you hope your kids will eat. This dish makes carrots the celebrated star of the meal.

Carrots deserve our attention. They are more than just a ubiquitous vegetable you hope your kids will eat. Sure, these colorful roots are a blast of nutrients and naturally sweet. They’re a go-to method to ensure we get our daily dose of vitamins. They undeniably play an important supporting role in stews, soups and sauces, or as a colorful flourish to leafy green salads and vegetable medleys. However, carrots are more than just a token flavor agent and accompaniment to a main dish. They are versatile and exciting and can easily be celebrated as the star attraction.

This recipe shines the spotlight on the humble carrot. It’s the center of the plate, dusted with a blend of harissa spice, which is a fiery, fragrant North African condiment. Harissa is a mixture of ground and smoked chiles, garlic and spices such as cumin, coriander and caraway seeds. It can be a dry spice blend or a paste. It’s easy to concoct your own blend, which you can make in extra quantities and store to use as a seasoning for meats, fish and vegetables.

The sweetness of the carrot marries well with the spicy heat of harissa. A creamy yogurt-tahini sauce is a cooling accompaniment that evens out the dish. Serve simply as a vibrant show-stealing side dish, or as a light veggie main course, layered over a leafy salad with crumbled feta, or piled on a bed of harissa-seasoned couscous tumbled with chickpeas.

Roasted Harissa Carrots With Tahini Sauce

Active time: 15 minutes

Total time: about 30 minutes

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

Yogurt-Tahini Sauce:

2/3 cup whole milk Greek yogurt

2 tablespoons tahini

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 small garlic clove, minced

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

Pinch of kosher salt

1 1/2 to 2 pounds carrots, peeled, ends trimmed

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon sweet paprika

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Finely grated lemon zest for garnish

Finely chopped cilantro leaves and mint leaves for garnish

Whisk the sauce ingredients in a small bowl. Refrigerate until use.

Heat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment.

If the carrots are thick, halve lengthwise. Cut the carrots in equal lengths (or leave whole, if desired). Place in a large bowl with the oil and toss to coat. Sprinkle the cumin, coriander, paprika, salt, cayenne and black pepper over the carrots and toss again to evenly coat.

Spread the carrots in one layer on the prepared baking sheet. Transfer to the oven and roast until crisp-tender and charred in spots, 15 to 20 minutes, depending on the thickness of the carrots, shaking the pan once or twice.

Remove from the oven and garnish with the lemon zest, cilantro and mint. Serve warm or at room temperature with the Yogurt-Tahini Sauce.

Lynda Balslev is a cookbook author, food and travel writer, and recipe developer based in the San Francisco Bay area, where she lives with her Danish husband, two children, a cat and a dog. She studied cooking at Le Cordon Bleu Ecole de Cuisine in Paris and worked as a personal chef, culinary instructor, and food writer in Switzerland and Denmark. Her favorite activities include hiking, cooking dinners for her friends and family, and planning her next travel destination.

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