Herb-Roasted Carrots with Zhug

Recipe 15 minPreparation Time 90 minCooking Time
Herb-Roasted Carrots with Zhug

Herb-Roasted Carrots with Zhug

15 minPreparation Time 90 min Cooking Time

About this Recipe

Carrot tops tend to get cut off and discarded, which is a shame; these frilly fronds are wonderful in pesto, especially when they’re young. Zhug, a spicy Yemenite green sauce, makes another fetching application, since carrots are related to both cumin and coriander. Using some form of coriander or cilantro in all three components ties the dish together beautifully.

The Benefits

Carrots are excellent sources of fiber and beta carotene, and their greens are packed with vitamins. The cheese provides protein and healthy fats, and cilantro is a powerful detoxifying ally.

Note: The cheese and pesto can also be made a day ahead; they’ll keep fine covered tightly in the fridge. 


Serves 4 to 6
  • 1 tsp fresh or pickled green coriander seeds (dried are fine too; just toast them)
  • 1 cup (260 g) fresh farmer’s cheese
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 lb (450 g) carrots, greens removed and reserved
  • A handful (15 g) cilantro stems (from 1 bunch), leaves removed and reserved
  • 1 Tbsp (15 ml) olive oil

Carrot Top Zhug

  • 1/2 cup (43 g) carrot tops (tough stems removed)
  • 1/2 cup (14 g) sorrel
  • 1/2 cup (14 g) cilantro leaves
  • 1/2 cup (14 g) parsley leaves
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seed, toasted and ground
  • 4 to 6 cardamom seeds, toasted and ground
  • 1/2 jalapeño, seeded (optional, but recommended)
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt


  1. Step 1
    Put the coriander seeds in a mortar and pound them lightly with the pestle to bruise and break them open. Add them to the cheese along with 1/4 tsp salt and a couple generous twists of pepper, stir well. Taste for seasoning; add more salt and pepper if needed. Set aside.
  2. Step 2
    Heat your oven to 375˚F/190˚C. Quarter the carrots lengthwise, or just cut them in half if they’re small. You want all the pieces to be roughly similar in thickness, so they cook evenly. Put the carrots in a bowl, add the oil and 1/2 tsp salt, and toss them well to coat. Lay half the cilantro stems on a baking sheet so that they’re all lined up and place the carrots on top of them perpendicularly, so that if the cilantro stems are railroad tracks the carrots are the ties. Lay the second half of the cilantro on top of the carrots.
  3. Step 3
    Put the carrots in the oven, lower the heat to 325˚F/165˚C, and roast for 30 minutes. Remove the top layer of cilantro stems, discard, and continue cooking until the carrots begin to get brown and wrinkly and can be easily pierced with a knife, another 20 to 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and discard the remaining cilantro.
  4. Step 4
    While the carrots are roasting, make the zhug: Put all the ingredients in a food processor and pulse to make a fairly smooth paste, scraping down the bowl as needed to get an even texture. Add a little more oil if it’s stiff and uncooperative. Taste for seasoning and set aside.
  5. Step 5
    To serve, put a schmear of zhug on each plate. Arrange some carrots on top and add a dollop of cheese alongside. Serve immediately.

Substitutions: Other herb stems work well for the roasting, and the zhug/pesto is highly malleable.

Zero Waste: Use the whey for pickling brine, dressings, or baking