Before Spring arrived and the air was still chilly, I developed the recipe for these Roasted Carrots with North African flavors. Spring produce is now available here in Texas, in fact the highly sought after yet illusive ramp was just sighted in a local grocery store the other day. However carrots are available year round and this is dish still as delicious now as it was a few months ago.
I’ve been cooking a lot with yogurt of late. Since yogurt adds creaminess without the richness of heavy cream, it’s an ideal ingredient to use during warmer months of Spring and Summer. It can be used for both savory and sweet applications. While yogurt and fruit are a classic combination often eaten at breakfast, I tend to use it more with savory preparations like sauces, as a condiment for sandwiches, thickening soups and stews or taming the spice of curry. Yogurt has a lower ph and the acid balances heavier flavors. The tang of the herbed-yogurt in this recipe pairs well with the warming North African spice Ras al Hanout, sprinkled on the roasted carrots.
So what is Ras al hanout? It is a fundamental spice of North African cooking. Similar to garam masala from India or Chinese five spice, Ras al hanout is a combination of spices mixed to form a spice blend. The warming and earthly character comes from components like cardamom, cumin, ginger, cinnamon and cloves. While widely available in supermarkets and spice shops, there are plenty of recipes for creating your own at home.
I’ve never been to Morocco, but pictures show vendors with large bowls piled high with fruits, nuts, spices and vegetables. Carrots, dates, mint, almonds, yogurt and ras al hanout are items I imagine would be available in a North African market. I know there are some that don’t like to eat sweet with savory but I love the combination and Morocco is known for classic dishes with this flavor profile like lamb tagine with prunes. The natural sweetness from the dates and carrots in this dish is balanced by the tang from yogurt, warming spices from the ras al hanout and toasted nutty flavor of almonds.
I know you’ll enjoy these roasted carrots with North African flavors as much as my family and I do no matter the season.
Roast Carrots with North African Flavors
These roasted carrots are a flavor packed dish featuring North African flavors like ras al hanout, dates and almonds. Minted yogurt adds creaminess and roasted nuts a crunchy texture. Raisins, currants or other sweet dried fruits can be substituted if dates aren’t available.
Author: David Moser / Cuisine: African / Serves: 4 to 6
For the carrots:
- 1 pound baby carrots
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 2 teaspoons ras al hanout
For the yogurt:
- ¼ cup Greek yogurt
- 30 mint leaves minced
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
For the vinaigrette:
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon sherry vingar
- 1 teaspoon orange juice
- ¼ cup chopped dates
- 2 Tablespoons roasted almond slivers
- chopped parsley for garnish
Roast the carrots:
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees farenheit. In a large bowl toss the carrots and olive oil. Sprinkle on the ras al hanout to evenly coat the carrots and add a few pinches of kosher salt or more to taste.
- Transfer the carrots to baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Roast the carrots for about 30 to 40 minutes, turning them half-way during cooking, until fork tender.
Make the yogurt sauce:
- In a small bowl combine the yogurt, mint and olive oil and mix until combined.
Make the vinaigrette:
- In a small bowl or cup, combine the ingredients and whisk together.
Assemble the dish:
- Place the carrots on a serving plate and drizzle the vinaigrette onto the carrots. Top the vegetables with dollops of yogurt and sprinkle on the dates, almonds and parsley. Serve immediately.