Carrots are undoubtedly one of the most versatile vegetables. They're great when eaten raw in salads or with dips like hummus, but also wonderful cooked in a variety of ways. Of all the cooking methods, though, roasting creates the best flavor and brings out their natural sweetness. And while you may think roasting is just another ordinary way to cook carrots, there's nothing ordinary at all about the great flavor they get when pairing them with the savory taste of za'atar.
If you're not already familiar with za'atar, then it may well be the best thing you're not yet sprinkling all over everything. The name is Arabic for "wild thyme" and, in fact, thyme is a common ingredient in this seasoning blend. This classic Middle Eastern spice mix can vary slightly from country to country and region to region, but it is usually a combination of thyme, oregano, marjoram, sumac, toasted sesame seeds, and salt. Other possible ingredients include dried cumin, coriander, and fennel seeds, although those are less common.
You can make your own or buy it at large grocers or specialty spice outlets. Either way though, the chances are that once you try it you will be putting it on all the things. The taste is savory and slightly nutty, but definitely not hot or spicy.
Making this simple and flavorful side dish is as easy as peeling the carrots with a vegetable peeler, placing them on a baking sheet, drizzling them with olive oil, and sprinkling on the za'atar. As the carrots roast in the oven, the sweet and savory aroma will be irresistible.
- 1 lb. carrots (peeled)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon za'atar seasoning
Gather the ingredients.
Pre-heat the oven to 375 F.
Peel the carrots with a vegetable peeler and place them on a baking sheet. Drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle on the za'atar.
Roast for 30 to 45 minutes or until the carrots are tender.
- To test the tenderness of the carrots, use a pairing knife to gently insert into one of the carrots. It has reached ideal tenderness when the pairing knife goes in like butter.
Additional Uses for Za'atar
How else can you use za'atar apart from on carrots? In so many ways! Za'atar can be used in the same way you might use any other seasoning blend—in meat and chicken marinades, in dips, or on roasted vegetables, just to name a few.
Try mixing it with olive oil and brushing it on flatbread such as pita bread or naan. Then toast the bread to bring out the flavor and aroma.
Season meat, chicken, and seafood with za'atar before cooking for a big boost in flavor, or add it to marinades before cooking.
Toss chickpeas with olive oil and za'atar. Then crisp them in a 400 F oven for 15 minutes for a great snack or addition to salads.
Add za'atar to dips like hummus or add it into olive oil vinaigrettes for a fresh burst of flavor.