Harissa Carrot Dip

June 14, 2021
2 Ratings
Photo by Julia Gartland. Props: Emily Rose Kellerman. Food: Anna Billingskog.
  • Prep time 20 minutes
  • Cook time 50 minutes
  • Serves 6-8
Author Notes

I love hummus. And while this carrot dip is decidedly not hummus (like, at all—there are no chickpeas, zero tahini), if you’re a hummus fan, you should definitely give it a try. Though it’s a bit more work than dumping a can of chickpeas into a food processor, this garlicky carrot-cashew dip is worth turning on the oven for. Like hummus, this dip is crowd-pleasing. (“It’s vegan and gluten-free!” you can proudly announce when you show up at the barbecue, having been tasked with bringing dip. Great job!) Plus it goes just as well with sliced vegetables as it does crackers, flatbread, or potato chips (it’s really good with potato chips.) But also, if you’re not feeling dip—yet have somehow found yourself here, reading a dip recipe—know that this also makes a dreamy spread for any manner of veggie sandwich, like this green bean and mozzarella number, or vegan fried tempeh and avocado on multigrain.

This dip gets its heft from roasted carrots—roasted just hot and long enough to get them super-tender and browned. And since the oven’s already on, you might as well roast a head of garlic until it’s spreadable and sticky-sweet. And yes, every one of those roasted garlic cloves is going in the dip. To get things creamy without dairy, we’ll turn to nuts. As is the case with many a vegan recipe (hello, pasta al limone(ish)), buttery cashews are the nut in question. After a soak in boiling water, they blend up super-smooth, imparting just a subtle nuttiness and transforming the roasted vegetable purée into something dippable and spreadable. Just don’t skip the harissa—if you’re not into heat, buy a mild version, but this deeply spiced red pepper condiment (both tossed with the carrots before roasting and swirled on top) adds just the right amount of tang that’ll have you back for another bite. —Rebecca Firkser

What You'll Need
  • 1 1/2 pounds (about 7 or 8) medium carrots, scrubbed (no need to peel)
  • 1 head garlic
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided, plus more for serving
  • 3 tablespoons harissa (any heat level), divided
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 cup raw cashews, rinsed
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1/2 tablespoon lemon zest (from about ½ lemon)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice (from about ½ lemon)
  • Flaky sea salt, for serving
  • Fresh vegetables, such as endive, radicchio wedges, watermelon or red radish slices, or sliced fennel, for serving
  • Mixed seedy crackers, potato chips, or sliced flatbread, for serving
  1. Heat the oven to 400ºF. Halve the carrots lengthwise. If they’re really thick, then slice crosswise into quarters.
  2. Toss the carrots, 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, 2 tablespoons of the harissa, and a couple big pinches of salt and grinds of black pepper on a sheet pan.
  3. Remove some of the papery outer peels from the head of garlic, then slice the head crosswise about ¼ inch from the top, leaving the rest of the head intact. Place the garlic on a 6-inch square of foil. Drizzle with 1 teaspoon of the olive oil and wrap the foil around the head. Place the foil-wrapped garlic on the sheet pan with the carrots. Roast until the carrots are very tender and browned (but not charred), and, when carefully unwrapped, the garlic cloves are soft and just starting to caramelize, about 40 to 55 minutes, tossing the carrots halfway through (if the carrots are starting to char but aren’t getting tender after 30 minutes, lower the heat to 350ºF and continue roasting until a fork can easily prick through). Let cool for at least 10 minutes, then squeeze out all the roasted garlic cloves from their skins onto the sheet pan (discard the skins).
  4. While the carrots and garlic are cooling, combine the cashews and boiling water in a small bowl and let sit for 10 minutes. Strain, reserving the water, then transfer the cashews to a food processor or high-power blender.
  5. Add the carrots and garlic to the food processor along with the lemon zest and juice. Purée until smooth, adding some of the cashew-soaking water by the spoonful to help it along if the motor is struggling, until it reaches your desired consistency. (I like it thick and spreadable, but you may want it a tad more loose—go with whichever texture you like hummus.) Season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer the dip to a serving bowl.
  6. If the harissa you’re using is super-thick, like tomato paste, thin the remaining tablespoon by whisking with a bit of water until it reaches the consistency of a looser tomato sauce (if the harissa you’re using is already this consistency, you’re good to go!). Swirl the remaining harissa into the dip, then top with flaky salt and another glug of olive oil. Serve with vegetables and crackers, chips, or flatbread.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

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  • Beth Brann
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    Janet C Williamson

3 Reviews

Janet C. June 5, 2022
This is wonderful! Made it up one day and had some left overs and finished it up the next. Will be making it on a regular basis. I'm thinking it would make a great condiment on a sandwich. Liven it up.
Gretchen March 19, 2022
I love this dip! It’s full of great flavor, color and texture. The natural sweetness of the roasted carrots and garlic are a perfect match with the harissa. The dip is great with crackers or veggies but also on its own by the spoonful!
Beth B. July 26, 2021
This was delicious and quite easy to make. I made 1/2 the recipe for 4 of us, but used a whole head of garlic. Served with homemade pita chips and crudite. The carrot color is stunning with all the veggies. It was a hit! Making it again later this week for a group of 8. Thank you for the recipe.