Roasted carrots and dates are an easy and delicious vegetable side dish that requires only about 10 minutes of hands-on preparation and can be served with anything and everything.
I especially love to serve roasted carrots and dates with vegan or vegetarian meals, but this recipe is also the perfect complement to roasted or grilled meat and poultry like Roast Chicken, Pot Roast, or Pork Tenderloin.
Around our house, we also like to make an entire meal out of roasted carrots and dates. The recipe makes 4 servings if you're offering it as a side dish. But, when eating it as a meal, my husband and I can easily polish off the whole tray on our own.
I love to top roasted carrots and dates topping them with a handful of roasted nuts no matter what. When we're eating it as a main dish, I sometimes add a dollop of za'atar labneh or add it to a grain bowl filled with wild rice or quinoa.
There are so many ways you can serve this dish! I've included a list of ideas below but the options are endless.
5 Ingredients Needed to Prepare this Recipe
You'll need just 5 ingredients to prepare this delicious vegan side dish:
- Carrots. They weren't available to me when I took these photos, but I particularly love using multi-colored carrots in this dish. They are so pretty!
- Extra virgin olive oil. No need to use the expensive stuff in this recipe. A good-quality mid-to-low-priced olive oil will work just fine.
- Salt and ground black pepper. If you have it or can find it, smoked salt is absolutely delicious on roasted carrots!
- Medjool dates. There are hundreds of varieties of dates in the world, but Medjool dates are the most commonly grown and the variety most widely available in supermarkets. Most of the time, you'll find them in the produce section.
- Fresh mint. A little sprinkle of fresh mint sets off the sweetness of the roasted carrots and dates and brightens up the whole dish.
Optional nutty topping: a handful or two of chopped nuts adds a delicious crunch to the tender carrots and dates. I usually reach for roasted and salted almonds, but you can use any kind of nuts or seeds that you like, roasted or raw.
Prepare This Side Dish in 10 Minutes or Less
Roasting carrots and dates is a seriously quick and easy process, requiring only about 10 minutes of hands-on preparation time. Here's how to make this super simple side dish:
Peel the carrots then cut them in half, separating the top of the carrot from the bottom.
Cut each half lengthwise into carrot sticks that are about ½-inch thick.
Dump the carrots onto a parchment or foil lined baking sheet, drizzle them with some olive oil and sprinkle with some salt and pepper. Stir the carrot sticks around a bit to make sure they are all coated in oil.
Pop them in the oven to roast for 15 minutes.
Remove the partially baked carrots from the oven and add the chopped dates. Roast for an additional 5-10 minutes, until the carrots are crisp-tender and just beginning to brown.
Scoop the roasted carrots and dates onto a serving plate and sprinkle with chopped fresh mint and a handful of nuts or seeds if you like.
Tips for the Best Roasted Carrots
Roasting carrots is simply a matter of tossing them in some olive oil, sprinkling on some salt and pepper and placing them in the oven to roast. Done and done. But, here are a few tips to ensure they'll be perfectly crisp-tender and delicious in no time:
- Prep the carrots by giving them a quick wash and peeling them. You can use a sharp knife to peel carrots but using a vegetable peeler is faster and easier. Do you have to peel carrots before roasting? Nope. Peeling carrots gives them a cleaner, more attractive appearance and (I think) a slightly better texture. But you certainly don't have to. If you use unpeeled carrots, be sure to give them a good scrub before cutting and roasting.
- My favorite way to roast carrots is to cut them into "sticks" that are about ½-inch thick. Why? Thin carrot sticks cook quickly and evenly, giving every bite the perfect crisp-tender texture. You can certainly roast carrots whole or cut them into thicker pieces but they'll take longer to roast and won't cook quite as evenly.
- You can roast long whole carrots or baby carrots. If using baby carrots, cut them in half lengthwise. If they are particularly fat little baby carrots, cut them into quarters. Using baby carrots will result in shorter carrot sticks, so you may need to reduce the roasting time slightly.
- Roast carrots at high heat. I pretty much always prefer to roast and sauté vegetables at high heat because it cooks them quickly, concentrating their flavor and giving them that perfect "crisp-tender" consistency. High heat also creates brown spots on the surface of the carrots and that's important because browning = flavor.
- Roast carrots just until they are "crisp-tender". The ideal texture for roasted carrots is tender enough to pierce with a fork but with some resistance. The goal is to avoid mushy carrots caused by overcooking them. The amount of roasting time it will take can vary depending on how thick your carrot sticks are. To ensure the perfect consistency, take one out every now and then and bite into it. When you can sink your teeth through but there's still a bit of "crunch", they are done.
The Many Ways to Serve Roasted Carrots and Dates
This is one of those fabulous recipes that's perfectly delicious as is but can be dressed up in a hundred different ways or added to other dishes like salads. Here are a few serving suggestions to get you started:
- Serve it as a meal over wild rice, quinoa, farro, or any other healthy grain. We do this A LOT, especially for lunch. I almost always have some cooked quinoa or farro in the refrigerator, and topping bowls of grains with roasted carrots makes for a quick and healthy lunch. I almost always add a handful of roasted almonds or pumpkin seeds.
- Top roasted carrots and dates with a dollop of za'atar labneh. Labneh is a super creamy middle-eastern soft, fresh cheese that's ridiculously easy to make (here's how!). To make za'atar labneh simply simmer garlic and za'atar and in olive oil until the garlic is crispy and the za'atar is intensely fragrant and flavorful, and dump it over a bowl of labneh. SO GOOD.
- Top roasted carrots and dates with anything crunchy: nuts, seeds, and croutons add a delicious crispy, crunchy topping that's a great contrast of flavor and texture.
- Add more fresh herbs. Top carrots and dates with any fresh herbs you like, instead of the fresh mint, or in addition to it.
- Make it saucy. If you are serving this with any kind of main dish that includes a sauce or gravy, make enough to drizzle some over the carrots. But, really the sky's the limit here. Any kind of classic butter sauce is delicious over roasted carrots, or bring in asian flavors with a teriyaki sauce, or Indian flavors with a curry sauce or yogurt sauce, or add some heat with a chili sauce.
- Add roasted carrots and dates to a salad. In the summer when I make grilled lemon rosemary chicken on the regular, I like to make extra chicken just so we can have this grilled chicken salad with tahini dressing which is made 1000 times more delicious with the addition of roasted carrots and dates.
More Simple and Drool-Worthy Vegetable Side Dishes
- Crispy Carrot Fries. Thin slices of carrot are tossed in olive oil, panko bread crumbs, garlic, and parmesan cheese then baked into crispy, flavor-packed carrot fries that are positively addicting.
- Simple Roasted Beets. This simple method for Roasted Beets requires just 3 ingredients - beets, olive oil, and salt. Eat these deliciously tender, flavor packed beets as is, add them to other dishes or dress them up in an endless variety of ways.
- Crispy Fried Potatoes. This simple technique results in the most delicious potatoes that are soft and creamy on the inside, and golden and crispy on the outside.
- Israeli Salad is a delicious, fresh mix of vegetables and herbs chopped into very small pieces so that every bite contains a variety of flavors and textures. This version of the classic salad is dressed with Pomegranate Vinaigrette and a handful of crunchy Ja'ala (roasted spiced nut and seed mix).
- 16 ounces (1 pound) carrots
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and ground black pepper
- 1 cup (150 grams/ 5.25 ounces) pitted, chopped Medjool dates
- about ½ cup chopped fresh mint
- Optional topping: About ⅔ cup (4 ounces/ 125 grams) chopped nuts, raw or roasted and salted
- Heat the oven to 425 degrees F (218 degrees C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil.
- Peel the carrots and cut them in half crosswise, separating the top from the bottom. Cut the top half of the carrot lengthwise into 3 or 4 carrot sticks. Cut the bottom half of the carrot into 6-8 carrot sticks, depending on how thick it is. (See photo above.) You want carrot sticks that are about ½ inch thick.
- Lay the carrots on the baking sheet and drizzle them with olive oil. Toss the carrots around on the baking sheet (I use my hands to do this) so that they are all coated in oil. Spread them out into an even layer and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Put the baking sheet into the oven and let the carrots roast for 15 minutes. Remove the baking sheet from the oven, sprinkle the dates over the carrots, then roast for an additional 5-10 minutes, until the carrots are crisp-tender and just beginning to brown.
- Scoop the carrots onto a serving plate or bowl and sprinkle with chopped mint and nuts, if using.
- Serving size for this recipe: This recipe makes enough for 4 people if you're serving it as a side dish. If serving this as a main dish, this recipe will make enough for 2 or 3 people.
- Nutrition facts calculated with out nuts
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 173Total Fat: 4gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 331mgCarbohydrates: 37gFiber: 6gSugar: 29gProtein: 2g