Maple and Harissa Roasted Carrots

I spent a couple hours sitting on I-90 just east of North Bend over the weekend while the wet blanket of surprise snow was cleared from Snoqualmie Pass along with a few overly confident drivers who ended up spun out in a ditch.

It seemed somehow appropriate, if not a bit ironic, to watch the snow fall on the same day we set our clocks back for Daylight Savings. The silver lining to all that waiting was guilt-free time scrolling the internet for fun and interesting Thanksgiving recipes. I’ve got a few tried and true recipes for the turkey and mashed potatoes but I love to add a new dish to the table each year.

Last year I made garlicky brussel sprouts with lemon-scented bread crumbs. Another year it was a kale salad with slices of grapefruit, spicy fennel and pomegranate seeds.

With Thanksgiving just a few weeks away, I’ve been bookmarking recipes and jotting down little notes when inspiration hits. I am hosting a group of about 25 this year, a mix of children and adults and I want the menu to meet everyone’s needs. Of course, our guests will bring things from appetizers to pies and side dishes. But I’m always looking for a couple of things that are new and interesting to add to the mix of favorites and must-haves.

Maple roasted carrots with harissa is just the bright unexpected dish I was looking for. Full of flavor with sweet and spicy notes, this recipe is easily adaptable to individual tastes and preferences.

Harissa is a deeply red slightly smoky chile pepper paste originating from Africa. You can buy it at specialty food stores, Trader Joes (if you make it to Seattle or Spokane), or of course, order it from Amazon. Harissa is quite spicy but you can control the spiciness of the dish depending on how much you add. I only used 1 teaspoon which gave the carrots a little bit of spicy heat without being overpowering. You could certainly add more or less depending on your tastes or skip it all together.

The dish comes together in just a few minutes. Garlic and cumin seeds add smoky rich flavor while the brightness of the lemon and sweetness of maple syrup balance the spiciness of harissa.

Maple and Harissa Roasted Carrots (adapted from Bon Apetit)

  • 2 cloves garlic, finely diced
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons harissa paste
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 2 pounds rainbow carrots, scrubbed, tops trimmed and outer layer peeled
  • 1 medium lemon, thinly sliced
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 teaspoons fresh parsley and chives, finely diced (optional)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a small bowl, whisk olive oil, maple syrup, garlic, cumin seeds, harissa and a pinch of salt and pepper. Toss the carrots and slices of lemon with maple syrup mixture spreading evenly on the baking sheet.

Roast for 30 to 40 minutes until the carrots are tender and the lemon caramelized. Stir carrots at least once halfway through to ensure they cook evenly. Remove carrots from oven and allow to cool briefly on pan, about 2-3 minutes. Put carrots (and lemon slices) in serving dish and sprinkle with fresh herbs. If you don’t have fresh parsley and chives, use a ½ teaspoon of dried parsley or skip it all together. Serve immediately. Also, if you can’t find rainbow carrots, just use orange ones. If your carrots are large, consider cutting them lengthwise in half so they cook quickly and evenly.


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