Roasted Carrots with Za’atar

By Ann Fulton

A singular spice rub, a sprinkle of feta, and a quick stint in a hot oven will reinvent cooked carrots and add delicious variety to your usual veggie routine.
Jump to Recipe

A singular spice rub, a sprinkle of feta, and a quick stint in a hot oven will reinvent cooked carrots and add delicious variety to your usual veggie routine.

 

The secret to perfectly roasted vegetables rests in the details: a high enough oven temperature (to achieve caramelization before the veggies become overcooked), not crowding the pan (we don’t want them to steam), and just the right amount of oil and seasonings.

(For all my best tips and tricks for roasting a wide variety of vegetables, you might enjoy this post on How to Roast Any Vegetetable, which includes some easy meal suggestions too.)

In reality, olive or avocado oil and the simplest of seasonings (i.e., salt and pepper) are enough to make most vegetables shine when they are roasted, as the high, dry heat of the oven does an excellent job of enhancing their natural flavor. So, I frequently stick to this simple approach.

However, adding an extra herb or spice, perhaps a light squeeze of lemon juice, and occasionally a dusting of Parmesan or feta cheese, can be easy ways to level up those roasted veggies, transforming a really good side dish into a truly memorable one.

In the following roasted carrot recipe, za’atar does just that.

What is za’atar?

Ubiquitous throughout the Middle East, za’atar is the name of a spice mixture that includes a blend of savory herbs, usually thyme, oregano, and/or marjoram, along with sumac for a bright and tangy note and toasted sesame seeds for a hint of nuttiness. The blend often includes a modest amount of salt as well.

Altogether bright, earthy, herby, and nutty, the versatile blend offers an easy, flavor-enhancing addition to your spice rack. (More ways to enjoy za’atar further down.)

I like to also add ground cumin (an equal amount of cumin seeds could be substituted) to the carrots in the following recipe, as its earthy flavor complements the za’atar beautifully.

Where to find za’atar? Your grocery store may carry this blend in the spice aisle, but it may also be located in the international aisle. Recently, I could not find it in our local Wegmans (and didn’t see anyone to ask on that particular day), so I asked Emily to keep an eye out for it.

Days later at the same store, she did find someone to ask, and sure enough, the za’atar was high on a shelf across from Indian ingredients. Moral of the story: If you can’t find za’atar, find someone to ask before you give up!

Alternatively, you can purchase this highly recommended brand online as well.

No za’atar? If you don’t have za’atar and want to make the most of your carrots, follow the recipe below and replace the za’atar and with a half teaspoon each dried thyme and oregano. This will approximate a portion of the flavors in za’atar and be delicious in its own way. Dried thyme alone also complements carrots beautifully. 

 

For an additional layer of flavor, I like to top the following roasted carrots with crumbled feta cheese towards the end of cooking time. Briefly broiling at this point will create additional golden-brown spots on both the carrots and the cheese.

The trick is to do this when the carrots are just a hint firmer than you ultimately want them. In the following recipe, I offer a range of times, as the thickness of the carrots as well as personal preference will determine your perfect level of doneness. I recommend checking after about 12 minutes and adding time as needed. I use the tip of a sharp knife and look for a hint of resistance. You can taste one too.

 

A note on the feta: First, you may omit or serve on the side if there’s a dairy-free diner in your midst. If using, a block feta in brine rather than the drier, pre-crumbled variety will work better here. If using the latter, you may enjoy simply sprinkling it over the cooked carrots and skipping the broil step.

I also purchased goat milk feta. Compared to feta made with cow milk, I think it has a fuller flavor and a little more tang. A combination of goat and sheep milk feta is a nice option too. 

 

Now that you have za’atar in your spice cabinet, how else might you use it?

More ways to enjoy za’atar:

  • Sprinkle it over avocado or avocado toast…
  • …or chicken before roasting
  • Add a few pinches to a baked sweet potato…
  • Or Sweet Potato Fries 
  • Add to popcorn
  • Sprinkle over eggs
  • Stir some into Shakshuka 
  • Add to other roasted vegetables like cauliflower, eggplant, and winter squash
  • Sprinkle over rice, like this Baked Rice 
  • Za’atar also pairs well chickpeas, lamb, and fish
A singular spice rub, a sprinkle of feta, and a quick stint in a hot oven will reinvent cooked carrots and add delicious variety to your usual veggie routine.

I mix the carrots right on the baking sheet, although you may use a large bowl. For most even distribution of the spices, I also use my hands to rub them over the carrots.

A singular spice rub, a sprinkle of feta, and a quick stint in a hot oven will reinvent cooked carrots and add delicious variety to your usual veggie routine.

You can control the amount of browning with the optional broil step. Note that, in this case, lightly greased foil is the better choice to line the baking sheet, as parchment may burn. When broiling, also be sure to stop roasting the carrots when they are a touch firmer than you ultimately want them to be. 

A singular spice rub, a sprinkle of feta, and a quick stint in a hot oven will reinvent cooked carrots and add delicious variety to your usual veggie routine.

I’d love to know if you try this recipe. Leave a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to tag a photo @fountainavenuekitchen on Instagram and Facebook. Your feedback is always appreciated.

Roasted Carrots with Za’atar
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Yield: 6 servings (recipe easy to halve or double; use second sheet pan as needed)
A singular spice rub, a sprinkle of feta, and a quick stint in a hot oven will reinvent cooked carrots and add delicious variety to your usual veggie routine. Enjoy with with chicken, steak, pork, lamb, ham, or virtually any protein.
Ingredients
  • 1½ pounds carrots washed, peeled and cut into thick sticks*
  • 1½ tablespoons (21ml) olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon each za’atar and ground cumin
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Optional topping: ⅓ cup crumbled feta cheese (I like a goat milk feta**)
  • Optional garnishes: chopped fresh parsley, cilantro, or mint; a drizzle of honey or hot honey; a squeeze of lemon juice
Instructions

Preheat the oven to 425°F and line a large, rimmed baking sheet pan with parchment paper or greased foil if broiling.

In a small bowl, combine all the seasonings (za’atar, cumin, salt, and pepper). Toss the carrots with oil and seasoning. (Tip: I do this right on the baking sheet, but you can use a bowl if you prefer. I also use my hands to rub the spices over the carrots, helping to evenly distribute them.)

Arrange the carrots in a single layer on the baking sheet, and bake for about 15 minutes, depending on thickness of the carrots and preferred level of doneness. Start checking after about 12-13 minutes. I like the carrots to be tender with a hint of resistance when pierced with the tip of a sharp knife.

If using feta, you can sprinkle it over the cooked carrots. Or for a hint of char on the top of the carrots and feta, set the oven to broil, push the carrots together on the baking sheet, and then sprinkle with the feta. Broil on the top rack, watching very closely, for a minute or two or until golden brown in spots.

Serve warm, with optional herb or garnish of choice, if desired.

Storage: Cooked carrots will keep for up to 5 days in the refrigerator.

Notes

*Young fresh carrots or baby carrots can be left whole and may require less tim

**A block of feta in brine rather than the drier, pre-crumbled variety will work better here. If using the latter, you may enjoy simply sprinkling it over the cooked carrots and skipping the broil step.

Need a dairy-free recipe? Omit the feta (the carrots will still be very flavorful) or serve it on the side so those who wish to use it can sprinkle over their portions.

More On YouTube More on Instagram
Tried this recipe?Post a picture on instagram and we will repost it! Mention @fountainavenuekitchen or tag #fountainavenuekitchen!
The Fountain Avenue Kitchen https://fountainavenuekitchen.com/

Leave a Reply

Make it? Rate the recipe:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *