This Mediterranean inspired side combines the sweetness of roasted carrots and parsnips with salty feta, crunchy pistachios and antioxidant packed sweet-tart pomegranate molasses. The colors are perfect for your holiday table, and the flavors pair fantastically well with my Marmite Mustard Lamb Roast.
I'm a sucker for almost every kind of roasted vegetable, but sweet roasted carrots and parsnips hold a special place in my heart. Ever since I was little, I could crush an entire plate of roasted carrots with very little effort. Pair roasted carrots and parsnips with tangy feta, sweet pomegranate molasses and crunchy pistachios? I'm officially weak in the knees.
Table of Contents
- What is Sumac?
- What is Pomegranate Molasses?
- How to Make Whipped Feta
- How to Perfectly Roast Carrots and Parsnips
- How to Assemble this Delectable Side Dish
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Need more delicious vegetable side ideas? Check out these recipes:
What is Sumac?
While there are many varieties of the sumac plant, not all of them are the poisonous kind you might have heard of. Sumac the spice is made from drying the berries of a certain variety of the plant and grinding them into a fine powder. It is beautifully bright red and mouth-puckeringly tangy.
In this particular application, it is used as a seasoning to brighten up the natural sweetness of roasted carrots. If you do not have access to sumac powder, you can substitute lemon juice and zest instead, although it will not have quite the same flavor.
What is Pomegranate Molasses?
If you haven't yet tried the delicious syrup that is pomegranate molasses, now is the time to jump on the bandwagon. It is sweet and tart, tantalizingly viscous and an enticing deep red hue, making it a beautiful and tasty addition to any number of dishes.
While it has long been an important ingredient in Middle Eastern cuisines, pomegranate molasses has been gaining popularity in the states over the last several years. I was first introduced to the near magical substance as a result of my restaurant work, and have been obsessed with it since my first taste.
For this dish, it does a great job of pulling together the natural sweetness of the roasted carrots, the tartness of the sumac and the tangy whipped feta. If you are unable to find pomegranate molasses in the store, you can easily create your own using just pomegranate juice, sugar and a dash of lemon juice.
How to Make Whipped Feta
Once you make this delicious whipped feta, you'll be making it all the time! Not only is it super yummy with these roasted carrots, it's also delicious in omelettes and on sandwiches, wraps, and crudités platters.
Lucky for you, whipped feta is also quite easy to make. You will need a food processor, however. The processor blades are necessary to get the feta small enough to incorporate with the cream cheese. My attempt at using a hand mixer didn't yield anywhere near the same results!
Simply add the feta and the softened cream cheese to the bowl of the processor. Mix until combined, then add the heavy cream and lemon juice and process until smooth and creamy. Taste and add kosher salt and pepper as needed.
Put into an airtight container and place in the refrigerator for at least an hour to firm up. Whipped feta can be made up to a week in advance.
How to Perfectly Roast Carrots and Parsnips
The best way to ensure that your vegetables roast evenly is to make sure that they are the same size. Wash and scrub your carrots and parsnips, peeling them if you wish. (I didn't, but that's totally up to you!)
Next, slice them into matchsticks that are roughly 1 centimeter square and roughly 4 inches long.
Toss with olive oil, sumac, kosher salt and pepper. Spread the vegetables in a single layer on a parchment or Silpat lined baking tray and roast at 450F for about 10 minutes.
Remove from the oven and flip the matchsticks with a spatula. Return to the oven for another 10 or so minutes, until charred on the edges and fork tender.
How to Assemble this Delectable Side Dish
I personally served this side on a family style platter so everyone could help themselves. That said, you can certainly follow the same assembly steps to plate individual portions instead.
Simply swipe the whipped feta on the bottom of your serving vessel. It's delicious, so don't be shy! If you're serving it on a serving platter, make a big pillowy cloud of it as your base.
Top with roasted carrot and parsnip matchsticks that you've tossed together for well-integrated color. Sprinkle with chopped pistachios and drizzle with pomegranate molasses. Voila!
Isn't that pretty as can be? Now just wait till you eat it. YUM!
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I make this dish ahead of time?
If you're making this for company, or for a holiday or as part of your food prep day, there are definitely some things you can do to get this dish prepped for an easy assembly.
First up, you can absolutely cut your carrots and parsnips into batons ahead of time. If you are keeping them for longer than a few days, you can extend their shelf life by wrapping them in damp towels and then in foil.
Next, feel free to make the whipped feta up to a week in advance. Keep in in an airtight container in the fridge, like these ones. Just don't eat it all before it's time to serve your dish!
When it comes time to assemble this show stopping side dish, all you'll need to do is quickly toss the carrots with olive oil and spices on a sheet pan then stuff them in the oven. Everything else is a snap!
What if I have leftover whipped feta?
You lucky dog, you! Whipped feta is excellent as a dip for crudités or crackers - or both, if you need an adult style lunchable. Use it as a sandwich spread on a crusty baguette with roasted marinated bell peppers, eggplants and zucchini for an awesome lunch. Add it to your omelets with some fresh herbs for a take on traditional French breakfast. In fact, the whipped feta is delicious enough solo that I make it often, even without the roasted carrots and parsnips to accompany it.
Need more delicious vegetable side ideas? Check out these recipes:
- Ratatouille-style Ratatouille
- Harissa Maple Sweet Potato Tian
- Roasted Delicata Squash Salad with Creamy Maple Vinaigrette
- Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Bacon Jam
If you made these Sumac Roasted Carrots and Parsnips with Whipped Feta, Pomegranate Molasses and Pistachios, let me know how you liked them below! I'd love to hear how they went over.
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Sumac Roasted Carrots and Parsnips with Whipped Feta, Pomegranate Molasses and Pistachios
- 8 oz Feta Crumbles
- 4 oz Cream Cheese softened to room temperature
- 3-4 tablespoon Heavy Cream as needed
- 1-2 tablespoon Lemon Juice
- Kosher Salt & Pepper to taste
Roasted Carrots and Parsnips
- Add the feta and the softened cream cheese to the bowl of the processor. Mix until combined. Add the heavy cream and lemon juice and process until smooth and creamy. Taste and add kosher salt and pepper as needed.Put into an airtight container and place in the refrigerator for at least an hour to firm up.
- Wash and scrub your carrots and parsnips, peeling them if you wish.Next, slice them into matchsticks that are roughly 1 centimeter square and roughly 4 inches long.Toss with olive oil, sumac, kosher salt and pepper. Spread the vegetables in a single layer on a parchment or Silpat lined baking tray and roast at 450F for about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and flip the matchsticks with a spatula. Return to the oven for another 10 or so minutes, until charred on the edges and fork tender.
- Generously swipe the whipped feta on the bottom of your serving vessel. Top with roasted carrot and parsnip matchsticks that you've tossed together for well-integrated color. Sprinkle with chopped pistachios and drizzle with pomegranate molasses. Enjoy!
- You can make the whipped feta ahead of time and keep it in a lidded container in the refrigerator for up to a week.
- If you can't find pomegranate molasses, you can make your own by simmering pomegranate juice, sugar and lemon juice.
- Feel free to use all carrots if you can't find parsnips.
- Optional: you can peel your vegetables for a slightly more polished look. My family is pretty low key, so I left the skins on.