Kid-friendly Roasted Za’atar Honeyed Carrots Recipe - Sticky Fingers Cooking
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Recipe: Roasted Za’atar Honeyed Carrots

Recipe: Roasted Za’atar Honeyed Carrots

Roasted Za’atar Honeyed Carrots

by Dylan Sabuco
Photo by Elena Shashkina/Shutterstock.com
prep time
5 minutes
cook time
10 minutes
makes
4-6 servings

Fun Food Story

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Roasted Za’atar Honeyed Carrots

Knock, knock.

  Who’s there?

Za’atar.

  Za’atar who?

Za’atar you waiting for? Let’s spice things up!!

Get ready for Roasted Za’atar Honeyed Carrots—where sweetness gets zesty with a Middle Eastern twist! In this dish, fresh baby carrots are drizzled in honey, seasoned with za’atar, and pan-fried to perfection. In short, it is a flavor-packed snack or side adored by kids and grown-ups alike!

Happy & Healthy Cooking,

Chef Erin, Food-Geek-in-Chief

Fun-Da-Mentals Kitchen Skills

  • measure :

    to calculate the specific amount of an ingredient required using a measuring tool (like measuring cups or spoons).

  • sauté :

    to cook or brown food in a pan containing a small quantity of butter, oil, or other fat.

  • toss :

    to lightly lift and drop food items together or coat food items with flour, or a sauce or dressing, as in a salad.

Equipment Checklist

  • Large skillet
  • Large mixing bowl
  • Cutting board
  • Kid-safe knife
  • Zester (or grater with small zesting plate/side)
  • Measuring spoons
  • Wooden spoon
scale
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Ingredients

Roasted Za’atar Honeyed Carrots

  • 1/2 lemon, zested
  • 3 C baby carrots
  • 2 tsp vegetable oil + a drizzle for cooking **
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp ground thyme
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp mild chili powder **(Omit for NIGHTSHADE ALLERGY)**
  • 2 tsp honey

Food Allergen Substitutions

Roasted Za’atar Honeyed Carrots

  • Nightshade: Omit mild chili powder. 
  • Soy: Substitute canola oil or other nut-free high-smoking point oil for vegetable oil.

Instructions

Roasted Za’atar Honeyed Carrots

1.
intro

Za’atar is a spice blend that fuses the flavors of the Mediterranean and Middle East. Expect a warm spice level blended together with the powerful flavors of garlic, thyme, and cumin.

2.
zest

Zest 1/2 lemon and place the zest in a large mixing bowl.

3.
measure + toss

Measure and add 3 cups baby carrots, 2 teaspoons vegetable oil, 1 teaspoon cumin, 1 teaspoon oregano, 1/2 teaspoon thyme, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/4 teaspoon mild chili powder, and 2 teaspoons honey to the bowl with the lemon zest. Toss until well combined.

4.
sauté + crunch

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Pour the seasoned carrots into the skillet and sauté for at least 8 minutes or until the carrots are starting to become brown. If you cook them too long, the carrots won’t have any crunch. Serve alongside Turkish Sweet Pepper Kid Kabobs and Feta Whip Dip. Enjoy!

Surprise Ingredient: Carrots!

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Photo by Kindel Media

Hi! I'm Carrot!

“I'm at the root of this recipe! Get it? Root? Carrots are root vegetables! We grow up in dark and cozy soil. Our leaves get plenty of sunshine, though. If you grow us, it's so satisfying to pull us out of our underground home and know you'll be tasting our crunchy sweetness very soon. But you may want to wash us first! You can eat carrots raw or cook them first. Either way, you'll enjoy our flavor, texture, and color in salads, savory dishes, and desserts, like carrot cake!"

History

  • Before carrots were orange, they were purple, red, white, and yellow. In the 16th century (after the Middle Ages), Dutch carrot growers invented the orange carrot in honor of the House of Orange, the Dutch Royal Family (for Kings and Queens). They did this by crossbreeding pale yellow carrots with red carrots. 
  • Carrots soon caught on in England as both a food and a fashion accessory. For example, it's said that ladies in the 1600s would decorate their hats with carrot tops instead of feathers! 
  • The carrots we eat today were domesticated from a wild carrot native to Europe and southwestern Asia.
  • No one knows exactly how old carrots are, but history traces them back about 5,000 years. They were mistaken for parsnips before the carrot was identified as a distinct vegetable. Carrots and parsnips are related but from different families. Parsnips are white and look a lot like carrots. They're also root vegetables!
  • When carrots were first grown many hundreds of years ago, farmers prized them for their aromatic leaves and seeds—not just the roots! 
  • According to some sources, carrots are the second most popular vegetable in the world, behind just one other. Can you guess what's number one? Potatoes!
  • The longest carrot ever recorded was over 20 feet long! (The measurement included the taproot's long, skinny end.) The heaviest carrot recorded weighed over 22 pounds!
  • You may think rabbits love carrots naturally, and this is largely because of the popularity of the wise-cracking and charming cartoon rabbit character named Bugs Bunny. We see Bugs Bunny munching on a carrot in most scenes. In reality, if a rabbit ate a whole carrot, it would be like you or me eating 20 carrots in one sitting! Way too much! Here's another fun fact: The voice of Bugs Bunny, Mel Blanc, reportedly did not like carrots at all.

Anatomy & Etymology

  • Carrots belong to the Umbelliferae family, named for their resemblance to an umbrella when their leafy green stems are attached. This family includes celery, parsnip, fennel, dill, and coriander.
  • Carrots are root vegetables, meaning they grow underneath the ground. Their feathery leaves grow above the ground. Can you think of other root vegetables? A few of them are beets, onions, turnips, potatoes, radishes, parsnips, fennel, garlic, and jicama.
  • You can eat every part of the carrot. Typically we eat the root part of the plant, but the stems and leaves are edible, too! A carrot's root can grow anywhere from 2 to 20 inches long before it's picked!
  • Carrots like to grow in cooler climates, not tropical, hot places. For this reason, they are usually grown in the autumn, winter, and spring months.
  • Baby carrots sold in grocery stores started as long carrots that were sliced and tumbled into smaller pieces to make them "baby-sized."
  • Carrot seeds are tiny. Find a teaspoon. How many carrot seeds do you think will fit inside? About 2,000!
  • A carrot plant will live for two years, meaning new crops need to be planted from seed every two years.
  • There are two main classes of carrots: Western and Eastern. The Western class includes four types, classified by their root shape: Chantenay, Danvers, Imperator, and Nantes. Several cultivars (varieties created by selective breeding) exist under each type. Many varieties have different colors than the typical orange. How many colors have you seen? The next time you're in the grocery store, look for these diverse carrots.
  • The English word "carrot" comes from the Greek word "karoton."

How to Pick, Buy, & Eat

  • One large carrot or a handful of baby carrots counts as one vegetable serving. Aim for three servings of veggies a day for kids and five servings for adults.
  • Carrots can be eaten raw, roasted, juiced, boiled, mashed, or steamed. However, they are most nutrient-dense when cooked and eaten with fat like butter or oil.
  • When you eat a carrot, how does it taste? Modern carrots have been bred to be sweet, which is why we often use them in baked goods like carrot cake! On the other hand, ancient carrots were bitter, not sweet.
  • Look for firm, brightly colored carrots with smooth, firm skin. Carrots that are limp or black near the top are not fresh.
  • Thicker carrots may be older and tougher to eat, whereas thinner carrots are typically younger, fresher, and sweeter.
  • Store carrots in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator, where they will keep for a few weeks!
  • One of the tastiest, easiest ways to cook carrots is to toss them with melted butter, salt, honey, and garlic, then roast them at 425 F for 20 minutes.
  • You can grate raw carrots and add them to salads or chop them to add to soups or stews. If you boil or steam carrots, you then puree them to add to breads, cookies, cakes, or even tomato sauce to sweeten it. Carrots add natural sweetness to whatever recipe they're in (and a pretty orange color, too!).

Nutrition

  • Eyes! The color of a fruit or vegetable tells us what nutrient it contains (nature is amazing!). Orange vegetables and fruits have a particular nutrient called beta carotene. Beta carotene was named for the carrot itself! This nutrient converts to vitamin A inside the body, which is good for our eyes! Studies have shown that only three percent of beta carotene is released from the raw vegetable when we digest it. But this percentage can be improved when we juice or puree raw carrots or cook them with fat like butter or oil. Carrots have the most beta carotene of any vegetable!
  • Teeth! The crunchiness of carrots helps clean the plaque off your teeth and gums, just like your toothbrush! Of course, this doesn't mean eating a carrot at the end of the day can substitute for brushing your teeth! Carrots also have minerals that protect the teeth. 
  • Purple carrots include anthocyanin, an antioxidant, just like purple eggplants, blueberries, and other colorful fruits. 
  • As with all vegetables, eating carrots helps protect us from getting sick! 

 

What is Za’atar?

Photo by Ron Zmiri/Shutterstock.com
  • Za'atar (Origanum syriacum) is an herb in the mint family (Lamiaceae), along with marjoram, mint, oregano, sage, thyme, and others. It is also the name of a spice blend that includes the ground herb. 
  • The other ingredients in the za'atar spice blend may include cumin, dried sumac, toasted sesame seeds, and salt. If the za'atar herb is unavailable, marjoram, oregano, thyme, or a combination can be used in its place. Za'atar spice blends can be purchased in stores and online. 
  • A species of the herb is believed to have been used in ancient Egypt, and its remains have been found in the tomb of Tutankhamun, an Egyptian pharaoh. 
  • In addition to its culinary uses, za'atar has been used medicinally in ancient times. We know today that it is high in antioxidants. 
  • The fresh herb is used in salads, pastries, and tea. You can season meats and vegetables with the spice blend, and it can be sprinkled on hummus. 
  • The za'atar spice blend can be added to bread dough before baking, and it is also used as a dip for pita bread after dipping the pita in oil.

Let's Learn About the Middle East!

Photo by Shutterstock
  • The Middle Eastern region sits in Western Asia and includes the following countries: Bahrain, Cyprus, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen. 
  • Several bodies of water border some of the countries, including the Mediterranean Sea, the Arabian Sea, the Caspian Sea, the Black Sea, and the Red Sea. 
  • People have lived in the Middle East for thousands of years, and they may speak one of the six major languages: Arabic, Greek, Hebrew, Kurdish, Persian, or Turkish. In addition, there are about 20 minority languages in the region. It is common for Middle Eastern people to speak more than one language.
  • The total area is 2,782,860 square miles, and the population is over 371 million. Saudi Arabia is the biggest in size, but Egypt has the most people.
  • The climate is hot and dry, with little available water beyond several rivers, like the Nile and its delta and the watersheds of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. 
  • Family is very important to the people of the Middle East. Food culture is rich and varied, with many recipes and methods overlapping. 
  • Middle Eastern art forms are stunning. Think handmade carpets, henna, marbling, glazed tile works, pottery, motifs, and embroidery. 
  • A typical meal in the Middle East is meat, fish, or stew, and various vegetable dishes or salads. Meals are served with bread or rice and often start with a salad, appetizers, dip-like spreads such as hummus or baba ganoush, pickles, and bowls of olives, dates, and nuts. Middle Eastern meals are feasts!

THYME for a Laugh

How do you know carrots are good for your eyes? 

Well, have you ever seen a rabbit wearing glasses?

Lettuce Joke Around

Why did Rosemary get kicked out of the spice rack? 

She took too much Thyme!

That's Berry Funny

What did the rabbit say to the carrot? 

"It’s been nice gnawing you!"

Lettuce Joke Around

It took days to come up with this rosemary pun.

It was a long thyme cumin!

Lettuce Joke Around

What’s a vegetable’s favorite martial art? 

Carrotee! (Karate)

THYME for a Laugh

Why did the honeybee go to the barbershop? 

To get a buzz-cut!

Lettuce Joke Around

What did the carrot say to the rabbit? 

"Do you want to grab a bite?"

THYME for a Laugh

Why do bees have sticky hair?

Because they use a honeycomb!

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