Here, roasted carrots and chickpeas are made sassy by dates that are macerated in sherry vinegar and lemon juice, then blitzed into a sweet-tart, almost creamy vinaigrette. Before heading into the hot oven, the carrots and chickpeas get tossed with some of the vinaigrette. As they roast, they’re bronzed by the date vinaigrette as it reduces down to a sticky glaze. The vinaigrette then plays double agent as a drizzling sauce, which is probably my favorite thing about this dish. It's amazing how just a little extra vinaigrette at the end completely wakes up and amplifies the flavors that are slumbered by the high-heat roast. The finished dish makes a natural side to roast lamb or chicken, but can easily slip into a leading role with some couscous, bulgur, or pita bread. You'll likely have some leftover vinaigrette: use it to up your roasting game (hello Brussels sprouts and asparagus!), or to make a simple kale salad pretty special. —EmilyC
Test Kitchen Notes
The carrots were enhanced by the sweetness of the dates and balanced by the tart vinegar. The chickpeas were tasty and especially nice with the occasional crunchy roasted pea. —Leilani
1 1/2 pounds
carrots, peeled and halved (or quartered, depending on size) into thin, uniform slices
15-ounce can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
cumin seed, lightly crushed
coriander seed, lightly crushed
kosher salt, to taste
a few tablespoons of coarsely chopped dill or cilantro
For Date Vinaigrette:
Medjool dates, pitted and chopped into small pieces
small garlic clove, roughly chopped
cup sherry vinegar, plus additional to taste
Finely grated lemon zest plus 2 tablespoons lemon juice, from 1 small lemon
To make the date vinaigrette, combine the dates, garlic, sherry vinegar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and a pinch of kosher salt, stirring a few times to ensure the dates and garlic are fully submerged. Do this step in the blender jar if using a stand blender, or a glass measuring cup or other suitable container if using a stick blender. Let macerate for 20 to 30 minutes while prepping the carrots and other ingredients.
Heat oven to 400 degrees F.
Add the extra-virgin olive oil and the warm water (starting with 2 tablespoons) to the macerated dates and garlic in the blender jar. Blend until the vinaigrette is smooth, adding a few more teaspoons of warm water at a time to thin the vinaigrette. You're looking for a slightly thick vinaigrette, but one that can still be drizzled or poured. Add salt and sherry vinegar, to taste.
Place the carrots and chickpeas on a sheet pan or baking dish lined with parchment that’s large enough to fit them in a single, even layer. Toss with 1/4 cup of the date vinaigrette, Aleppo pepper, cumin seed, coriander seed, and a few large pinches of kosher salt until evenly coated. It may seem like too much vinaigrette, but it’ll reduce down and coat the carrots and chickpeas—so don’t skimp! Spread the carrots and chickpeas in a single, even layer. Roast until the carrots and chickpeas are golden and the carrots are fork-tender, stirring 4 to 5 times to ensure even roasting and to avoid the vinaigrette burning in open areas of the pan (but don't be too concerned--it's why you're using parchment!). The roasting time will depend on the freshness and size of the carrots – anywhere from 25 minutes to 45+ minutes. If the carrots are browning too quickly but aren’t tender, lower the oven to 375 degrees F and continue roasting until tender.
Scatter the dill or cilantro over the carrots and chickpeas, and adjust seasoning to taste. Serve warm, making sure to drizzle more of the vinaigrette over the carrots and chickpeas before serving. (See headnote for suggested pairings.)