Did you burst out of the gates with a new-year-new-you attitude on New Year’s Day? Full disclosure: I’ve lost my resolve as January comes to a close. Our family just returned from a ski trip to Telluride where we indulged in everything from an in-room dinner of beef short ribs over mushroom risotto to a mountain top lunch of cassoulet (seen below) at Bon Vivant. ‘Dry January’ came to a screeching halt as well, but I digress.
When I want healthy and satisfying dishes (who doesn’t? ) I often turn to flavors of the Middle East. Warm, aromatic spice blends and bright, fresh herbs mingle with grains, roasted vegetables and meats, leaving me energized and guilt-free. That dollop of creamy goodness topping my roasted veggies? It’s yogurt spiked with garlic and sprinkled with tart, lemony sumac. That saffron-licked chicken with a crunchy, sweet honey and hazelnut topping? Yotam Ottolenghi’s culinary nirvana.
But I’m here to talk hummus, that ubiquitous Middle Eastern dish appearing at every gathering near you, most likely in a sad little plastic container. And what a shame! It’s simple to make and tastes infinitely better when you do. I’ve taken artistic license with this recipe, roasting carrots with the Moroccan spice blend ras el hanout then whirring them into chickpeas with garlic and lemon juice. Topping the hummus with a carrot top gremolata lends freshness and crunch, balancing out the spiced, pillowy dip. Once you’ve made your own, you’ll never crack open that red lid again.
Moroccan-Spiced Roasted Carrot Hummus with Toasted Almond and Carrot Top Gremolata
This hummus is seasoned with ras el hanout, a blend found in most grocery store spice aisles. ‘Ras el hanout’ roughly translates to ‘top shelf,’ referring to a blend made up of a shop’s best spices. Many versions (I used the brand Frontier Co-op) include the carrot loving spices of coriander, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, cumin, ginger and turmeric. If you can’t find carrots with tops or if the tops look sad and broken, substitute parsley for the carrot tops in your gremolata.
makes about 3 cups
for the hummus:
- 1 bunch carrots with perky looking tops (about 12 ounces) or 8 ounces carrots without tops
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided, plus more for drizzling
- 2 1/2 teaspoons ras el hanout spice blend, divided
- 1 1/4 teaspoons salt, divided
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup tahini
- 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1/2 cup warm water
- gremolata (recipe below)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Remove carrot tops and set aside, if using, for gremolata. Rinse and scrub the carrots, cutting them lengthwise into halves, or quarters if large (I don’t bother peeling them if they’re young and organic).
Place on a sheet pan, drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil, sprinkle with 1 1/2 teaspoons ras el hanout, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper, tossing well to coat. Spread carrots evenly in pan and roast for 20 minutes or until tender all the way through and browned at the tips, stirring once half way through cooking time. Remove from oven and set aside until cool enough to handle. Cut into 1-inch pieces.
Pour drained chickpeas and carrot pieces into bowl of a food processor, pulsing until mixture looks like a gravelly paste. Add the garlic, tahini, lemon juice, remaining 1 teaspoon ras el hanout and 3/4 teaspoon salt, pureeing until thoroughly combined. With food processor running, pour warm water through the feed tube a few tablespoons at a time until mixture is smooth and creamy. You may not need the full 1/2 cup. Test for seasoning, adding more salt, spice blend, or lemon juice if needed. Serve topped with gremolata, swirling in a bit if you’d like, and drizzling with olive oil.
for the gremolata:
- 1/3 cup raw, unsalted almonds
- 1/3 cup loosely packed carrot top leaves or parsley leaves, finely chopped
- 1 clove garlic, finely minced
- zest of a lemon
- 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Place almonds in a small skillet over medium-low heat, stirring frequently until toasted, about 5 minutes. Let cool, then finely chop.
In a small bowl, combine the chopped carrot tops (or parsley leaves), garlic, and lemon zest. Stir in the almonds and olive oil, then season to taste with salt and pepper.