This recipe is inspired by a dinner Andrey and I had at a restaurant in Charleston, South Carolina, called Butcher and Bee. Andrey and I absolutely loved this restaurant as they had many plant-based options on their menu in a farm-to-table style. Part of their menu consists of many small plates or mezze that can be ordered together to create a meal. One of the mezze we shared was Moroccan spiced carrots with tahini sauce. Another dish we shared was roasted summer squash with an amazing, delicious sauce called chermoula. I never heard of this sauce before and it turns out that it’s also Moroccan. I really loved the spices of the carrots and the bold flavor of the chermoula, so I was inspired to combine them together. I also wanted to create a dish that could stand on it’s own as a main entrée, so I paired it up with lentils to recreate these memorable flavors into a singular main dish. So here it is!
How to make Moroccan Spiced Carrots
The spices are what make this dish and there are quite a number of them used in this recipe. I personally have a large spice collection and usually have all of these spices on hand, but if you don’t, perhaps you can find a store that sells spices in their bulk section. In that way, you can purchase just the volume you need and nothing more.
The other aspect to this recipe is that the spices are toasted together and then ground. I have a small coffee grinder that I use for spices and it works really great. I also use this grinder to grind flax seeds to put in my morning oatmeal, so it is a very useful tool that gets used almost every day. Alternatively, you can grind them up in a mortar and pestle – but you will definitely need some elbow grease for that! Or just purchase pre-ground versions of the spices. That works, too!
I like to cut the carrots about 1/4 inch thick on the diagonal to make nice oblong slices. First steam the carrots until they are just tender, then remove from the heat. Then in a skillet, cook some garlic until fragrant. Throw in the spice mixture you made and the cooked carrots, plus a little bit of maple syrup or your sweetener of choice, for a touch of sweetness. Just cook for a few minutes and then they are done. You can make the carrots ahead of time and let them come to room temperature before serving. I think this dish is really great at room temperature, but you can also serve it warm.
Pictured above are the nine spices used for the carrots: paprika, cardamom, clove, Aleppo pepper flakes, cinnamon, garlic powder, allspice berries, nutmeg, and coriander
How to make chermoula
This bright green sauce is called chermoula and you could think of it like basil pesto, except it is made with parsley, cilantro, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, lemon and garlic. It is so so good and packs serious flavor. Chermoula is used in Moroccan cooking as a marinade commonly on fish, or as a condiment. I think it takes good on pretty much anything… Just mix some of this green stuff into plain lentils and then boom – they are transformed. It’s good stuff.
You will definitely have leftovers. Here’s some ideas to use it up:
Drizzle it on other veggies, roasted, grilled or steamed
Put a big spoonful in the center of a bowl of hummus
Mix into cooked grains, like quinoa or millet
How to Serve The Moroccan Spiced Carrots with Lentils
I’ve made these Moroccan carrots with lentils as a main dish on it’s own and also as a side dish along with a number of other dishes to share with a larger gathering. It’s good both ways! The lentils make it filling and hearty, so it really can stand on it’s own.
It also can be served warm or room temperature – this is up to you. I personally like it at room temperature.
For a family style meal, place all the lentils on a big platter and top with the carrots in the middle. Drizzle the tahini sauce over top and sprinkle with some extra parsley and cilantro.
This dish is perfect for a summery mezze-style meal to share with friends and family. Here are some other dishes you can serve along with this one to create a full menu:
Hummus (topped with some of the extra chermoula!) with pita and veggies
Grilled summer squash topped with Muhammara
Salad with mixed greens, shishito peppers, cubed peaches, cucumbers, and crushed coriander
Grilled eggplants with tahini sauce
However you choose to serve it, I hope you enjoy this recipe!!
Moroccan Carrots with Black Lentils
Makes 2 large servings or 4 side-dish size servings
Carrots are tossed with warm and flavorful Moroccan style spices and served over a bed of black lentils for a hearty meal. The lentils are seasoned with chermoula, a Moroccan herb sauce made from cilantro, parsley, coriander and cumin. This dish is filling enough to be a main dish or can be served as a side.
Author: Leah Romay
For the carrots:
- 5 large carrots, sliced on the diagonal, ¼ inch thick
- ¾ t paprika
- ½ t coriander seeds
- ¼ t garlic powder
- 1 allspice berry
- Pinch chili flakes
- ¼ t ground cinnamon
- ⅛ t ground nutmeg
- 1 cardamom pod
- 1 clove
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2 T olive oil
- 2 t maple syrup
- pinch of salt
For the lentils
- 1 cup black beluga lentils, rinsed and sorted
- 2 cups vegetable broth or water
- 2 heaping tablespoons chermoula
For the chermoula
- 2 cups cilantro leaves (2 large bunches)
- 1 ½ cups parsley leaves (1 large bunch)
- 3 to 4 garlic cloves
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons cumin seeds, toasted and ground
- ½ teaspoon coriander seeds, toasted and ground
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- ⅛ teaspoon cayenne
- ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
For the tahini sauce
- ¼ cup tahini
- 2 T lemon juice
- 2 cloves garlic, grated
- pinch of salt
- few grinds black pepper
- 3-4 T water
Food Processor, spice grinder (or clean coffee grinder)
- For the carrots: Place all of the dry spices in a pan and toast for a few minutes over medium heat until fragrant. Transfer to a bowl and allow to cool.
- Meanwhile, slice the carrots on the diagonal. Place in a steamer basket and steam until just tender. Remove from heat to not over cook and set aside.
- Place the cooled spices in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle and grind together until fine.
- In a skillet, heat the 2 T olive oil and add the garlic, cooking for 1 minute. Add the spices and stir to combine. Add the carrots and toss to coat evenly. Add the maple syrup and pinch of salt. Cook for three minutes. Set aside.
- Cook the lentils: combine the lentils with the broth or water and cook over low heat for about 20 minutes.
- Make the chermoula: toast the cumin seeds and coriander seeds and grind until fine. (Alternatively, use pre-ground spices). Combine all ingredients for the chermoula in a food processor and process until well combined.
- Once the lentils are cooked, stir in two heaping tablespoons of the chermoula, or more/less to taste.
- Make the tahini sauce: stir together all ingredients except the water. Gradually add the water to thin, adding more water if necessary. The thickness of your tahini will affect how much water you need.
- To serve: spread the lentils on a large serving platter. Top with the carrots. Drizzle the tahini sauce over top. Sprinkle fresh parsley or cilantro over top. This dish can be served at room temperature or warm.
– use leftover chermoula drizzled over roasted veggies, mixed into cooked grains, or spooned on top of hummus. It is a very versatile condiment