Harissa-Roasted Carrots and Dates

Excerpt from Ari’s Top 5 enews

Delicious vegetable dish with a North Mediterranean spin

Roasted orange and red carrots with almonds on top.

Here’s a dish that’s terrifically delicious, nutritionally excellent, and easy to make! It features the incredibly tasty and exceptionally versatile harissa we get from the Mahjoub family in Tunisia. The Mahjoubs have been farming the family lands, about 45 minutes west of Tunis, for over a century. Their passion for Tunisia, its culture and its cooking, are an inspiration, as are their dedication to sustainable agriculture and their community. The Mahjoub’s couscous, exceptional extra virgin olive oil, preserved lemons (cured for over six months in salt-brine), and everything we get from them are beyond terrific. The harissa, like Col. Pabst’s Worcestershire, is an old family recipe handed down from generation to generation. It’s made with three varieties of peppers that they grow, and their own tomatoes—all of which are grown organically and, as per tradition, sun-dried (it makes a big difference), blended with an array of spices and their olive oil (pressed from their own organic olives). I regularly put the harissa on pasta, serve it with fish, steak, sandwiches, and, of course, on the Mahjoub’s terrific, hand-rolled, sun-dried couscous.

To make this dish, preheat your oven to 450°F. Cut high-quality carrots into slices or small wedges. (If you can find different colors of carrots, it makes for a more visually interesting dish!) Toss with a generous bit of the harissa. For a pound of carrots, pit and coarse-chop about half a dozen dates and toss the pieces in with the carrots and harissa. Add some of the Épices de Cru wild Uzbek cumin (so good!) and mix again. Pour the seasoned vegetable mixture into a baking dish. When the oven is at 450°F place the dish inside and roast for about half an hour, more or less, or until the carrots are soft, and caramelized on the edges.

When they’re done, take the roasted carrots from the pan and place on a warm serving platter. Taste for salt, and add if needed. Top with toasted almonds and a spoonful of additional harissa! Beautiful and super tasty, a lovely combination of sweet, savory, and spicy. It’s great hot out of the oven, but it works just as well at room temperature, too, so you can use it for picnics or even the next day as a salad.