Sumac Roasted Carrots with Lemon and Tahini Dressing
These Sumac Roasted Carrots with Lemon and Tahini Dressing are the perfect mix of sweet and sour. Enjoy as a main course or as a simple side dish.
Flavours of the Middle East
I love being inspired by different cultures and cuisines and right now I am having a fantastic time exploring the flavours of the Middle East. We are very lucky that where we live there are lots of fantastic shops that stock everything from sumac to za’atar, orange blossom to pomegranate molasses and a whole host of ingredients in between. And so, I have a whole playground of exciting ingredients I’m able to play with!
What I love the most is that Middle Eastern recipes aren’t shy on flavour. The food is rich and hearty and they often mix sweet and sour to create dishes that both look and taste vibrant! It’s that magical flavour combination that I’m using in this recipe today.
Middle Eastern ingredients
This roasted carrots recipe uses three Middle Eastern ingredients which should definitely form part of your store cupboard. They are sumac, tahini and pomegranate molasses.
What is sumac?
For this recipe I use a spice that is very popular in Middle Eastern cuisine and these days can be found in most good supermarkets.
Sumac is a deep red spice that has a tangy, sour flavour that is not too different to that of lemon juice! It’s become a staple in my spice cupboard because it adds a sour flavour to dishes when the juice or zest of citrus juice wouldn’t be appropriate. (For example when roasting carrots!)
This intruiging spice is made by drying the berries of the sumac bush and them grinding them to a coarse (not fine) powder. There are lots of different varieties of the sumac plant and so there are just as many different sumac spices that you can buy from specialist shops.
How do you use sumac?
- My favourite way to use sumac is to add it to vegetables before I roast them.
- For the meat eaters amongst you, it can be added to marinades and rubs to add extra flavour to meat or fish.
- Another simple way of using sumac is to simply use it as a garnish, sprinkling it over everything from salads and dips, to breads, pastries and more!
What is tahini?
Although tahini is a common ingredient in Middle Eastern cuisine it can actually be found in recipes from across the world including China, Japan and India.
Its made by by grinding sesame seeds into a smooth paste. Before being ground the sesame seeds may have been roasted or hulled, but not always. If tahini has been made with un-hulled sesame seeds it will have a dark colour and a more bitter, nuttier taste.
Most good supermarkets sell tahini these days but if you go to a specialist store you will find a range of varieties to choose from. Don’t be tempted to buy a huge jar if you don’t plan to cook with it often. A little goes a long way.
How do you use tahini?
- Tahini is often used to create sauces and dressings like the one in this Sumac Roasted Carrots recipe.
- It can also be used to make dips like hummus and baba ghanoush.
- Alternatively it can be used in a range of sweet treats, pastries and cakes.
- It’s also delicious simply spread on toast or served with yogurt and honey.
More recipes using tahini
What is pomegranate molasses?
Pomegaranate molasses is a thick syrup that is simply made by by reducing pomegranate juice and sugar.
It is another staple ingredients across the Middle East and is particularly popular in Persian cuisine. Much like tahini, a little goes a long way. It is both sweet and slightly sour and in some ways is quite similar to balsamic vinegar!
How do you use pomegranate molasses?
Pomegranate molasses is great in salad dressings or added to dips.
It is a fantastic glaze for smokey meats that have been grilled or barbecued.
If you’re vegetarian or vegan like me then it is also fantastic drizzled over roasted vegetables. Which is why it is the perfect way to finish this recipe for Sumac Roasted Carrots with Lemon and Tahini Dressing.
Pomegranate molasses can also be added to desserts and even drinks. The possibilities are endless.
Now you’ve had a crash course in some of the key Middle Eastern Ingredients used in my recipes for Sumac Roasted Carrots with Lemon and Tahini Dressing, let’s get to making it!
Sumac Roasted Carrots with Lemon and Tahini Dressing
- Pre-heat your oven to 200C / 400F / gas mark 6.
- Trim and peel the carrots, if they aren't all the same thickness, cut them in half length-ways or even quarters if they are particularly thick.
- Thinly slice the onion then add to a roasting tin along with the prepared carrots and garlic cloves.
- Drizzle the vegetables with olive oil and sprinkle with the sumac and salt then toss the vegetables in the oil and spices to ensure they are well covered.
- Roast in the centre of the oven for 15-20 minutes or until they are just tender when poked with a fork.
- Add the chickpeas to the roasting tin and roast for a further 5 – 10 minutes.
- While the chickpeas are roasting, mix together the tahini and lemon juice in a bowl. Don't worry if adding the lemon juice makes the tahini seize up.
- Slowly add cold water to the lemon and tahini mix and whisk until you have a sauce that can easily be drizzled.
- Remove the roasting dish from the oven and serve with a drizzle of the lemon and tahini dressing followed by a drizzle of pomegranate molasses and a sprinkling of chopped parsley and lemon zest.
More Middle Eastern inspired recipes
Put all of these recipes together and you will have a fantastic feast!