Make Ahead

Roasted Carrot Harissa and Crème Fraîche Crostini

February 28, 2011
3 Ratings
Photo by Food52
  • Prep time 2 hours
  • Cook time 20 minutes
  • Makes 1 cup of harissa for many crostini
Author Notes

This was inspired by the recent post “How Food52 Does Oscars”; I have loved film, going to the movies, being swept away by a beautiful story, a gritty drama, or a suspenseful thriller for almost as long as I have loved food. The natural sweetness of roasted carrots contrasts the spice and heat of this versatile condiment. Topped with a touch of tangy crème fraiche and served on a crunchy garlic and olive oil kissed crostini, this is my nod to harissa, and to the Best Picture of 1997, The English Patient (one of my favorites). The roasted carrot harissa would also be delicious with grilled meats, or eggs. Note: Since the heat of individual chiles vary, for a milder carrot harissa, use only one Chile de Arbol, or omit entirely. —gingerroot

Test Kitchen Notes

Warm, savory spices like cumin and coriander always bring out the best in sweet, roasted roots and gingerroot's earthy carrot harissa is no exception. Nearly everything in this dish can be tweaked to your taste: lemon juice, garlic, salt, and perhaps most importantly the heat from the dried chiles. We love the whisper of garlic swiped over the toasts, and the smart suggestion to use the carrot greens as a garnish. - A&M —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • 3 dried Anaheim or California chilies, stemmed, seeded
  • 3 dried Chile de Arbol chilies (each about two inches in length), stemmed, seeded
  • 2 1/2 cups carrots, peeled and sliced 1/2-inch thick, on the bias (I used 5 medium carrots)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 3 pinches sea salt
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided, plus more if necessary
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon black caraway seeds
  • 1 medium garlic clove, rough chopped (about 1 teaspoons)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice, plus more to taste if necessary
  • 1 baguette, sliced 1/4-inch thick on the bias
  • 1 garlic clove, cut in half (plus more if necessary)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, for brushing on baguette slices
  • 1 handful Italian parsley, cilantro, or carrot leaves (tops), torn into small pieces, for garnish
  • 1 teaspoon crème fraiche, per crostini)
  1. Preheat oven to 400° F.
  2. Use kitchen shears to cut dried chilies into 1/2-inch wide pieces. Place chile pieces in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Let chiles stand for 30 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, place carrot slices on a large rimmed baking sheet Season with cumin, a pinch or two of sea salt and drizzle 2 tablespoons of olive oil over carrots. Toss to coat evenly. Set your timer for 15 minutes and put carrots in oven to roast, shaking pan once halfway through. When there are four minutes of cooking time left, add coriander seeds and black caraway to carrot mixture, using a wooden spoon to combine. When your timer goes off, remove pan from oven and set aside to cool.
  4. Drain water from chilies and place in the bowl of a food processor. Add spiced roasted carrots, making sure to scrape all of the oil from the pan in as well. Add chopped garlic clove and process for 20 seconds before scraping down mixture with a spatula and pulsing again. At this point, scrape, add lemon juice and 1 tablespoon of olive oil and process until you have a thick paste (You want this to be thick so that it will stand its own on the crostini without making it soggy). Taste for salt and acid, adding more to taste if necessary. Transfer harissa to a container with an airtight lid, cover top surface with a drizzle of olive oil and let mixture sit at least one hour and up to 24 (in refrigerator) before using.
  5. When ready to make and serve crostini, remove harissa and crème fraiche from refrigerator to come to room temperature. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Arrange baguette pieces on a large rimmed baking sheet. Rub raw garlic halves on tops of baguette slices. Using a pastry brush, paint each piece of bread with olive oil. Toast bread until golden, about 5-7 minutes, depending on your oven. Remove pan from oven and allow crostini to cool slightly.
  6. Spread desired amount of roasted carrot harissa on each crostini, top with a touch of crème fraiche (about 1/2 to 1 teaspoon per slice) and carrot leaves. Serve and enjoy!

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Nancy
  • jillyp
  • Zoe C
    Zoe C
  • Devangi Raval
    Devangi Raval
  • themeaningoffood

Recipe by: gingerroot

My most vivid childhood memories have to do with family and food. As a kid, I had the good fortune of having a mom who always encouraged trying new things, and two grandmothers who invited me into their kitchens at a young age. I enjoy cooking for the joy it brings me - sharing food with loved ones - and as a stress release. I turn to it equally during good times and bad. Now that I have two young children, I try to be conscientious about what we cook and eat. Right about the time I joined food52, I planted my first raised bed garden and joined a CSA; between the two I try to cook as sustainably and organically as I can. Although I'm usually cooking alone, my children are my favorite kitchen companions and I love cooking with them. I hope when they are grown they will look back fondly at our time spent in the kitchen, as they teach their loved ones about food-love. Best of all, after years on the mainland for college and graduate school, I get to eat and cook and raise my children in my hometown of Honolulu, HI. When I'm not cooking, I am helping others grow their own organic food or teaching schoolchildren about art.

83 Reviews

Courtney H. November 28, 2017
I made a version of this for Thanksgiving with half the amount of dried peppers so everyone would eat it and it was very good. Next time, I'll add the full amount of spice for just us and I'm sure it'll be even better. We've been using the leftover harissa on grilled cheese sandwiches -- yum!
Nancy October 7, 2015
I think this is wonderful! So vibrant looking and I love the heat with the sweetness of the carrots, crunchy crostini and tangy creme fraiche. These are MY flavors for sure! As far as I know skipping the black caraway seeds was fine, I used fresh black pepper. This is an unexpected, elegant appetizer and I think you'll get tons of compliments. Thank you gingerroot!!
gingerroot October 7, 2015
You're welcome, Nancy! I'm thrilled to hear you enjoyed this recipe and I love your use of fresh black pepper. Thanks for letting me know.
Nancy September 20, 2015
Please someone help me out! I cannot find black caraway seeds. I understand they have a peppery flavor. Will this suffer terribly if I omit 1/4 t black caraway seeds?
gingerroot September 20, 2015
Hi Nancy, sorry this reply is belated. I think it's fine if you don't have the black caraway. I'd love to hear your thoughts - if you ever find the black caraway, you can try this again with them and compare.
Nancy September 21, 2015
I was so happy to see your reply. I will be doing this today and will report back tomorrow! I dislike not having all the ingredients especially for first time trying a recipe so I'll continue to search out the blk seeds. Thanks! Nancy
bgebbqfanatic March 20, 2014
This was fantastic, I used quick harissa from mourad's new morrocan cookbook, and topped it with goats cheese, I think roasted parsnips may also work really well with this, thank you its a keeper.
gingerroot March 20, 2014
Thanks for letting me know! I'm so glad you enjoyed it. Keep me posted if you try it with parsnips...
Brsboarder January 25, 2014
How would you make this if you already have harissa paste? What type of carrot harissa ratio would you use?
gingerroot February 3, 2014
Hi Brsboarder,
I'd go ahead and roast the carrots with spices as written and then when you get to step 4, I'd start by adding a tablespoon of harissa at a time. How much more to add would depend on how spicy your paste is, how spicy you want the finished harissa to be etc. I can tell you that the finished carrot harissa definitely has some heat, although the sweetness of the carrot provides a nice balance. I'd love to hear how it turns out.
jillyp January 1, 2014
I'm late to the game, but made this for NYE last night. It was delicious, and just as good spread on toast with a fried egg this morning!
gingerroot January 9, 2014
Hi jillyp! Happy New Year! Apologies for the belated reply...I'm thrilled you enjoyed this recipe.
za'atar September 18, 2013
The carrot harissa is surprisingly well-balanced. I was expecting it to be too spicy, but the sweetness of the carrots came through beautifully and the pepper choices created a pleasant warming sensation rather than a kill-your-taste buds spice. I will definitely be making this again throughout the fall and winter.
gingerroot September 20, 2013
Hi za'atar, So glad you enjoyed this. Thanks for letting me know!
Zoe C. August 25, 2013
Gorgeously sweet and tangy harissa. I topped the crostini with goats cheese rather than creme fraiche because I happened to have it in the fridge, it was luscious.
gingerroot August 29, 2013
Hi Zoe C! Thanks for letting me know. I'm thrilled you enjoyed this recipe.
Lost_in_NYC August 10, 2013
OMG. This is completely divine! The tangy-ness of the creme fraiche offsets the spiciness of the carrot harissa beautifully. I made a few tweaks and it came out excellent. Thank you gingerroot for a gourmet recipe that is super easy!
gingerroot August 14, 2013
Thanks for letting me know, Lost_in_NYC! I'm thrilled you enjoyed this.
Madgie January 28, 2013
Brought this to a New Year'sEve party and it wash a HUGE hit! Everyone loved it. thanks for an interesting and different treat!
gingerroot January 28, 2013
You are so welcome, Madgie! Thanks for letting me know!
Devangi R. July 8, 2012
Hi, gingerroot- I had made these recently for my party of mozzarella making...everyone loved these so of them even said she did not like carrots but she loved these. Thanks for the recipe.
gingerroot July 17, 2012
Hi PistachioDoughnut, Thanks so much for letting me know. I'm thrilled everyone enjoyed these...even more so with someone who did not like carrots. Sorry for the belated response, I just found your comment now.
themeaningoffood May 18, 2012
Wow, how innovative. I love the colour! This looks amazing and impressive to guests
gingerroot June 15, 2012
Thank you! I'm sorry my reply is so belated, I have not been getting my notification emails and just discovered it now. I hope you enjoy this if you try it!
KirstenS January 8, 2012
Thanks, gingerroot - I was looking for a vegan-friendly hors d'oeuvres that got beyond variations-on-a-theme-of-hummus of a holiday cocktail party, and this totally fit the bill. One comment to others, tho -- in my party prep haste, I didn't check to see that the carrots were thoroughly soft. Mine weren't, and the puree was never completely smooth. The flavors were lovely tho! Nice!
gingerroot January 8, 2012
You are welcome, ksherk! I'm so glad you enjoyed them. The last time made these I had the opposite problem - distracted with everything else I was making, I left the carrots in the oven for a moment too long. Thankfully the harissa turned out fine.
fiveandspice January 6, 2012
Hi! Even been meaning to let you know forever, but I've been so crazy busy I've barely had a chance to glance at the site each day (distressing, I know), but these turned out absolutely delicious! I love all of the warm and tangy flavors. I'll be eating this all winter!
Burnt O. January 6, 2012
Ditto! The heat of the chiles, the warm spices, and the sweetness of the carrots - so much flavor! And I loved the creamy creme fraiche to balance the heat and add creaminess. These were a BIG hit - will definitely make again.
gingerroot January 6, 2012
Em & Linda: Aw, you've both made my day! So happy you both made these and enjoyed. Sharing and enjoying food with friends and family (whether by making yourself or through a recipe) is the best part about all of this. Cheers, Ladies - Here's to another great year of food!
Burnt O. December 30, 2011
These are going on the list for tomorrow night's NYE celebration for my vegetarian guests.
gingerroot December 31, 2011
Oh, wow, Linda, I'm flattered you'd include these. Hope your guests enjoy - let me know how it goes. Happy New Year!
Ms. T. December 21, 2011
This looks amazing! Congrats on being a finalist :) can't wait to make this.
gingerroot December 21, 2011
Thanks, Ms. T! I'd love to hear your thoughts if you try it. Happy Holidays!
liamoran December 20, 2011
This just earned a spot at Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Well done. Love it.
gingerroot December 20, 2011
Thank you! I'm thrilled that you'd even consider it for your holiday festivities. Happy Holidays!
cookinginvictoria December 16, 2011
Yay, gingerroot -- so happy to see this recipe as a finalist!! This is going on our holiday menu for sure. I love the idea of roasted carrot harissa. And I too am a big fan of The English Patient. What a creative recipe -- congratulations!
gingerroot December 16, 2011
Thank you for your kind words, cookinginvictoria! I'm tickled to think you'd include this as a part of your holiday menu. If you do, I'd love to hear your thoughts about it. Happy Holidays!!
Shalini December 16, 2011
Great idea, especially the crème fraiche to balance the spicy harissa! The crostini idea is an elegant way to present them.
gingerroot December 16, 2011
Yes! Crème fraiche adds a bit of a sour/tangy note that contrasts with the sweetness of the carrot and heat from the chilies. Thank you, Shalini, I hope you try them.
gingerroot December 15, 2011
Thank you so much, everyone! I am thrilled and humbled. This is the best early Christmas present ever.
lapadia December 15, 2011
Happy Holidays, GR!
gingerroot December 16, 2011
Same to you, lapadia!!