Carrots are the best culinary old friend. They’re reliable, available, and always ready to lend their earthy flavor and bright color to every manner of dish, sweet and savory. It’s easy to take carrots for granted, but this preparation elevates a simple root vegetable to star status.
Fresh young carrots, adorned with olive oil, salt and pepper, and aromatic herbs, get roasted at high temperature. Once cooled they are sliced into generous chunks and dressed with more olive oil, orange juice and zest, sesame oil, mint and sesame seed. I added some sweet marjoram leaves, because I think marjoram and carrots are pretty good flavor pals.
To go with the carrot salad is a tahini dip, flavored with lemon and garlic, and whipped in the food processor to a mayonnaise-like texture. It’s a brilliant addition to the dish, with its richness and depth of flavor. And, any leftovers can be used as a dip for other vegetables, pita bread, or chips.
If you get to your local Farmer’s Market this week, pick up a bunch or two of fresh carrots. A multi-colored assortment would add to the visual appeal of this already lovely dish. Use your imagination and what you have on hand as to the seasonings you add to the salad. A little rosemary or marjoram would be terrific during the roasting process, and young, tender parsley or tarragon leaves would make an appropriate garnish too. I think you’ll agree that carrots and tahini make a very good combo; one you will want to add to your vegetable side dish rotation. Enjoy!
Roasted Carrots with Tahini, Mint, and Sesame
Market-fresh carrots are roasted with aromatic herbs, then dressed with citrus and additional herbs, and served on a bed of whipped tahini. It's a perfect combo of flavor, texture, and color in a simple vegetable side dish.
- 1 pound fresh, medium-sized carrots scrubbed, but not peeled, tops trimmed
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Kosher salt
- freshly ground pepper
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 sprig fresh sweet marjoram leaves
- 1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
- 1/2 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
- 1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 4 leaves fresh mint, torn into small pieces
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
- 3/4 cup tahini stir well before measuring
- 1 clove garlic, peeled and chopped
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- 1/3-1/2 cup ice water
Preheat the oven to 425°F. On a non-stick, or parchment-lined baking sheet, toss the carrots with the 1 tablespoon olive oil, salt and pepper, garlic, thyme, and marjoram leaves. Roast the carrots for 20 minutes, or until they are tender but still firm in the center. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
Trim the ends of the carrots and cut them into approximately 2-inch diagonal chunks. Place in a medium bowl and add the orange juice and zest, sesame and olive oils, torn mint leaves, and sesame seeds (reserves a few sesame seeds for garnish).
In the bowl of a food processor, fitted with the steel blade, blend the tahini, chopped garlic, and lemon juice until the mixture is well combined and slightly lighter in color. With the machine running, stream in ice water until the mixture is light, and mayonnaise-like in texture (you may not need all the water). Taste the mixture and add salt to taste.
Spoon a portion of the tahini mixture on your chosen serving platter or plate. Pile the carrot salad atop the tahini, leaving some tahini exposed at the edges of the carrot mixture. Sprinkle on the reserved sesame seeds and a few drops of olive oil, if you like. Serve the carrots and tahini, refrigerating any leftover dip, tightly covered, for 2-3 days.
You can find the original recipe at "Poole's, recipes and stories from a modern diner" by Ashley Christensen. I have down-sized the quantities to fit my "empty-nest" household. If you need a more generous dish, feel free to double the ingredients.