Moroccan Carrots - Kosher Linkup

Fall is the time when the hot sticky weather from what seemed like a forever summer finally becomes crisp and cooler.  Time for the leaves to descend from the safety of the tree branches and gently zig-zag to the ground, later to be picked up by a child and carried to school, or gathered in a pile for that same child later to jump into.

Fall is also the time when root vegetables are in season.  So it is fitting that root vegetables were selected for this month's kosher linkup, brought to you courtesy of Jamie at joyofkosher.

Quick!  What's the first root veggie to pop into your head?  Figuratively, not literally ... never put anything smaller than your elbow in your ear ... but I digress.   Carrots, of course.   Carrots are very versatile.  Raw, they make a crunchy snack for kids in the afternoon, especially when those mini-types (the carrots, not the kids) are dragged through a jar of peanut butter, while fingers, sticky from dipping too enthusiastically into the jar when you are not looking, touch every exterior inch of that jar while returning it to the cupboard, hidden deep in the back so that the next person grabs an unopened jar from the front.  Repeat with all the remaining jars.

Um... where was I going with this?  Oh, yeah, carrots.  They are great when cooked as well, and are even better roasted.  Their sugar caramelizes and the carrots become a different type of crunchy.

In keeping with the theme I also tossed in a couple of parsnips.  When I was a kid I used to call them "white carrots."  Although they can be eaten raw (and maybe even with peanut butter), IMHO they should be cooked first.  I usually chop 'em and add to chicken soup, but roasting 'snips also brings out a lot of their flavor.  Like carrots, small to medium-sized parsnips are generally better than large, woody-tasting roots.

Basically, moroccan-style means throw every spice in the pantry.  No, seriously, moroccan foods tend to be flavored with a combination of many spices, especially ginger, cumin, paprika and pepper.  I used a bit of chipotle paprika because its smoky kick adds interesting flavor.  Just a quarter-teaspoon should be plenty without destroying your mouth.  Hungarian paprika can be used instead; it gives flavor without heat.  Regular ol' paprika only provides color.  If you love your family please use only the good stuff.

To speed up the roasting for a weeknight meal, slice the carrots and parsnips into matchstick-size pieces. To me, all that matchstick cutting feels like it takes an hour, but in actuality it only takes around 10 minutes.  As an alternative, simply quarter each carrot and parsnip half, then increase the second roasting time to 15-20 minutes.  It's a trade-off, except that with the alternative, you have both hands free ... to do something else. 

Although the veggies are lubed up with olive oil, lightly grease the baking pan with cooking spray.  If by chance you miss anointing some of the veggies with oil they will permanently bond to the pan.   In the pictures you can probably see that I lined the pan with foil.  For one thing I wasn't taking any chances at 10pm (the Tuesday I made this was my evening work shift).  And second, after baking I gift-wrapped the veggies with the same foil and let chill in the fridge overnight.  As a result, cleanup was stupid easy, plus it made an easy package to carry the following evening to the Hadassah potluck I attended (I explained Hadassah at this post).  I simply tossed the still wrapped veggies (big mistake) into the oven.  It reheated nicely but the results were quite limp.  I shoulda opened the package before heating.   Luckily no one knew the matchsticks were supposed to be crispy and those who tried them commented on how delicious they were.

As you can see, I didn't garnish with pistachios or parsley, and I really really do like pistachio nuts and parsley.  One of the Hadassah members has a severe problem with nuts.  So to avoid killing her the nuts stayed home.  As for the parsley, I was still out of fresh.  I could have used some dried stuff instead, at least for the photos, but I didn't think of it at the time have some integrity .

Moroccan Carrots Matchsticks
serves 4 as a side-dish

cooking spray
1 pound carrots
2-3 medium-sized parsnips
2 Tbl. olive oil
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. chipotle paprika (or 1 tsp. hungarian paprika)
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. coarsely ground black pepper
1/4 cup shelled and coarsely chopped pistachio nuts, for garnish (optional)
1/4 cup loosely packed parsley leaves, coarsely chopped, for garnish (optional)

Preheat oven to 425F.  Lightly spray a large rimmed cookie sheet or jelly roll pan with cooking spray.  Set aside.

Peel carrots and parsnips (or scrub them well).  Take one and cut in half crosswise, then slice through lengthwise (for a total of 8 pieces). Slice each quarter into matchsticks. Some parsnips have very narrow ends; for those just cut each end in half lengthwise.  Repeat with remaining veggies.

Oooh ... shiny!

Place matchstick in a large mixing bowl.  Pour in olive oil and mix to distribute, either with clean hands (olive oil is a natural moisturizer) or with a couple of salad forks.

In a small bowl combine all remaining ingredients except pistachio nuts and parsley.  Combine with the veggie mixture (this time preferably with salad forks).

Spread mixture onto prepared cookie sheet, avoiding any overlap if possible.  Place baking sheet in oven and roast for 20 minutes.

The veggies shrunk a bit.

Lightly toss veggies, then roast for another 5-10 minutes (depending upon how thinly cut you made the matchsticks), or until crisped and browned to your liking.

Or not ...

Garnish with pistachio nuts and parsley, if desired.  Serve hot, warm or at room temperature.   Refrigerate leftovers, covered, up to 2 days.  Reheat for 10-15 minutes at 350F on a baking sheet, uncovered.  They will not be as crispy as freshly baked but can be served without shame or guilt.  


Laura said…
I like how you mixed in the parsnips with the carrots.
RonnieVFein said…
I make carrot and parsnip fries all the time. My family loves them! I like the seasonings here.
RonnieVFein said…
I make carrot and parsnip fries all the time. My family loves them! I like the seasonings here.
Chaya said…
I like the addition of the parsnips. I have roasted them in big chunks and found them to be delicious. I will have to try it, this way.
Oh! You Cook! said…
Funny you should mention it ... I was thinking about adding "baked fries" to the name.
Oh, I have made these before, I love them.
ive never made this with parsnips, great addition!
Parsnips are one of my favorite veggies to roast but I usually don't season them. You spice blend makes me think of "ras el hanout" spices.
This would make an amazing side dish! I love all the spices you used.

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