Have you had whole roasted carrots? They have a satisfying meatiness to them that makes them seem like more than just a side dish. Served with tahina sauce, they are even more filling. It doesn’t really matter whether or not you use regular carrots or rainbow carrots, but the rainbow carrots are definitely more visually thrilling, especially if you strew over thin slices of roasted lemon.
My sister-in-law introduced me to the roasted rainbow carrots with tahina sauce from The Oh She Glows Cookbook. She served it with a salad of snap peas, radish and mint, which had a dressing with Aleppo pepper. The smoky heat of the Aleppo pepper went extremely well with the tahina sauce and carrots.
When I recreated the carrots at home, I served it with a tahina sauce flavored with smoked paprika. My sister had given me a seasoning mix from Trader Joe’s that replicates the flavor of the spice paste pilpelchuma. I used the pilpelchuma spice mix on the carrots instead of the cumin and coriander seeds of the Oh She Glows recipe.
The idea for roasting lemon slices on top of the carrots comes from this recipe from Bon Appetit for Harissa and Maple Roasted Carrots.
Roasted Rainbow Carrots with Pilpelchuma
If you don’t have pilpelchuma, you can use 2 minced cloves garlic, 1/4 tsp. cumin, 1 tsp. paprika, 1/2 tsp. chili powder (ancho chili), 1/2 tsp. cayenne and 1/4 tsp. caraway.
2 lbs. rainbow carrots
1 1/2 tsp. pilpelchuma (I used Trader Joe’s pilpelchuma, which is a dry rub instead of the usual paste), or more if you like your carrots very spicy
1/2 lemon, sliced paper thin, seeds removed
1 clove garlic, minced (optional: the pilpelchuma has garlic in it)
1/4 tsp. cumin (also optional: the pilpelchuma has cumin in it)
Lay the carrots out on a parchment lined baking sheet. Rub the carrots with olive oil and spices (will need about 2 Tbsp. olive oil and 1 tsp. salt). Lay the lemon slices over the top of the carrots. Give everything a quick spray with baking spray to make sure that everything is coated with oil.
Roast the carrots at 425 degrees (400 to 450 degrees is okay) for 30-40 minutes, until the carrots are tender and the lemon slices are charred.
Serve warm or room temperature with tahina sauce.
Tahina Sauce for Carrots
4 Tbsp. tahina
juice 1 lemon (you might need two lemons, depending on how juicy the lemons are and how lemony you like your tahina)
1/2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. smoked paprika, or more to taste
salt, pepper (or Montreal Steak Seasoning, which has salt, pepper and garlic), to taste
1 Tbsp. olive oil (optional)
warm water, as needed to thin texture
Combine the tahina with lemon juice. At this point, the sauce will be too thick (a paste more that a sauce), so thin it out by stirring in warm water a Tbsp. at a time until it is thinned out as to a pour-able consistency. Add seasonings and add more lemon juice as needed. You can add olive oil if desired, but it isn’t essential. There should be enough smoked paprika in the tahina to make it a kind of orange-pink (like spicy mayo) and to give the tahina a real punch of smokiness. If you have preserved lemons that come in spicy oil, you can add some of the spicy oil to give the tahina a bit of heat.