A simple and incredibly tasty appetizer, snack or side: Spice-roasted whole carrots with a smoky, ever-so-slightly spicy dip with creamy whipped feta and roasted red peppers.
I made these spice roasted carrots as a side dish to go with dinner one night.
But they never made it to the table!
What happened was I ended up eating more than my share straight out of the pan, holding them by the stem and nibbling them whole, while indulgently double-dipping (shhhh) into this smoky, creamy whipped feta spread.
Roasting whole carrots is the definition of ‘keeping it simple’ — there’s no need to slice, chop or boil these babies.
And you don’t even need to peel them, if that’s how you roll.
Carrots get even sweeter when they’re roasted because their abundant natural sugars concentrate and caramelize.
Adding aromatic spices enhances their flavor even more, which is why some of my all-time favorite carrot recipes use spices — Cumin-Lime Roasted Carrots are a perfect example.
What spices go with carrots?
Carrots are naturally sweet, which makes them a perfect partner for an array of seasonings and spices.
The best spices for carrots are warm, sweet and pungent.
Keeping some spices whole when roasting with vegetables adds a crunchy, toasty spark of flavor to food.
This recipe uses whole cumin seed, but it’s fun to play around different spices to see what you like.
If using ground spices, start with a small amount (1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon).
- Cinnamon (ground)
- Turmeric (ground)
Serving ideas for spice roasted carrots and whipped feta:
- Arrange roasted carrots on an appetizer or mezze board along with toasted flatbread or pita.
- Add some toasted pistachios, almonds or walnuts to the platter.
- The whipped red pepper feta dip is fantastic alongside other sliced vegetables like raw fennel, celery or cucumber.
Spice-Roasted Carrots with Whipped Red Pepper Feta
- 2 pounds (900 g) carrots, peeled
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon whole cumin seed
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Kosher salt
Whipped Feta Dip:
- ½ pound (225 g) feta cheese
- 2 red bell peppers, roasted and peeled (see note)
- 3 tablespoons (45 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper or 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- Kosher salt to taste
- Preheat oven to 425 (220C) degrees.
- Arrange the carrots on a large rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with the oil and sprinkle with the cumin, red pepper, black pepper and 1 teaspoon kosher salt. Roll the carrots around to coat with oil and spices.
- Roast the carrots until they’re tender when pierced with a skewer or point of a knife, 25 – 35 minutes depending on their size.
- Meanwhile, make the Whipped Feta Dip: Put all the ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth and creamy. Transfer to a bowl.
- Serve the carrots on a platter or board with the dip alongside, or on individual plates with a big spoonful of dip on each.
- To roast red bell peppers, put the whole peppers on a hot barbecue grill, under a broiler or directly over a stovetop gas flame until blackened on all sides. Put the peppers in a bowl and cover. When cool, peel off the skin, remove the stem and seeds. Store peeled peppers in the refrigerator for a week or so.
- Aleppo pepper is a deep red crushed red chili used in Syrian and Turkish cooking. It has a warm gentle heat and wonderful fruity flavor. I buy it in specialty stores, and it's also available on Amazon.
- Feta dip adapted from Spice:Flavors of the Eastern Mediterranean