Za’atar roasted carrots with a carrot top pesto

I’ll be honest, I’m not really a roasted carrot person. In a salad, sure. But as a side dish on its own, not so much. I feel like they’re pretty boring. So when I started playing around with this recipe, I’m not going to lie, I didn’t have the highest of hopes. Which is why this recipe blows me away even more.

If you’ve never worked with za’atar before, this is the perfect recipe to get familiar with one of my favorite flavor profiles.  Za’atar is a traditional east Mediterranean spice blend, usually containing toasted sesame seeds, thyme, marjoram, and sumac.   I typically buy a premade blend at my local Whole Foods, but also love this blend from The Spice House here in Chicago that you can buy online.   This spice combination is warm and earthy and works great with roasted vegetables. 

But probably the star of this recipe is the carrot top pesto.  To be totally transparent, this is my first time working with the greens of carrots and I was blown away. I had no idea all these years what I had been wasting.  This carrot top pesto is hearty and spicy and earthy.  A great compliment to the sweet and spicy carrots.  

To balance it all out I added a simple yogurt sauce that has a touch of lemon and a sprinkle of za’atar.  Just a little element to cool it all off and balance out the hearty, earthy textures.  

This simple recipe is a fun twist on what can normally feel like a boring side dish.  It’s easy to put together, looks gorgeous on any spring table and is absolutely delicious.  For sure my new “go-to” spring side dish.  

Za'atar roasted carrots with a carrot top pesto
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 4-6 servings
  • 1 bunch of rainbow carrots (or any carrots of your choice) washed, and with the stems removed, chopped and set aside
  • 1½ tbsp of za'atar spice mix
  • 4-5 tbsp of olive oil
  • 2-3 tbsp of water
  • ½ cup of pistachios, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • ¼ tsp of red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup of greek yogurt
  • the juice of one lemon
  • salt/pepper to taste
  1. Preheat your oven to 475 degrees
  2. On a sheet pan, lay out carrots and drizzle with 1 tbsp of olive oil. Sprinkle with 1 tbsp of za'atar spices and salt/pepper to taste. Toss gently to combine and relay on the baking sheet in an even layer.
  3. Roast carrots in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, or until carrots are crisp and golden brown (don't overcook the carrots, you want them golden and with a slight char, but not "mushy").
  4. Meanwhile, prepare the carrot top pesto
  5. In a food processor, place the chopped carrot tops along with 3 cloves of garlic, ¼ cup of pistachios, and 4 tbsp of olive oil. Pulse for 30-60 seconds. Sprinkle in a tbsp or two of water as necessary until a "paste" is formed. Season with salt/pepper and red pepper flakes. Pulse. Taste and adjust seasoning. Place in a small bowl and set aside
  6. To create the za'atar yogurt sauce place yogurt, lemon juice and ½ tbsp of za'atar spice in a small bowl. Season with salt/pepper. Stir. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary.
  7. To serve place the roasted carrots on a serving dish. Add a generous serving of the yogurt sauce along with the carrot top pesto. Sprinkle with the left of chopped pistachios and a sprinkle of za-atar spice. Serve and enjoy


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