Grilled Carrots with Za’atar and Creamy Lime Sauce

Grilled Carrots with Za’atar and Creamy Lime Sauce is a fun, unique side dish that goes with so many meals.

Did I mention that it’s also gluten-free, dairy-free, Paleo and Whole30-friendly, and has a vegan option?

I mean, that stuff is important but really, this is a side dish for anybody and everybody.

Grilled Carrots with Za'atar and Creamy Lime Sauce on a blue plate on a wooden table surrounded by limes, pine nuts and mint

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Grilled Carrots with Za’atar

Grilling carrots might seem difficult since they’re hard and crunchy. But it actually works really well.

Grilling makes them caramelized and smoky, and they get a little tender while remaining somewhat firm.

And for this recipe, they’re paired with earthy, tangy za’atar seasoning (see below for more info), fresh mint and chilis, toasted pine nuts and an easy, creamy lime sauce.

So this is the perfect dish when you’re already grilling steaks, burgers, chicken, pork or other vegetables.

This dish is so simple and easy, yet looks so impressive, you’ll want to make it for all your dinners and parties, summer and all year round!

Grilled carrots don’t even need that much more time than other, typically grilled veggies which keeps things easy when you’re trying to keep track of multiple things on the grill at once.

Grilling them with a cover really works best to heat them evenly, soften them and give them that smoky flavor, but a stovetop grill pan can also be used.

You can also roast the carrots in the oven (see info below).

 

What you need for Grilled Carrots with Za’atar

Ingredients:

  • 3 pounds carrots (any color)
  • 3 tablespoons avocado oil
  • 1 tablespoon za’atar
  • 1/2 cup avocado oil mayonnaise or yogurt
  • 2 limes
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 3 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 1-2 tablespoons roughly torn or chopped fresh mint
  • 1 fresh red chili pepper, such as Fresno, seeded and diced
  • flaky sea salt

Equipment:

Grilled Carrots with Za'atar and Creamy Lime Sauce on a blue plate on a wooden table surrounded by limes, pine nuts and mint

How to make Grilled Carrots with Za’atar

Heat a gas or charcoal grill to medium heat.

Peel and trim the ends off the carrots. Cut crosswise into 3″ pieces. Halve lengthwise any pieces that are really thick or quarter lengthwise if really thick.

In a large bowl, toss the carrots with the avocado oil and za’atar until evenly coated.

Place the carrots on the grill, cover and grill for 6-10 minutes per side, depending on their thickness and the temperature of the grill.

To make the sauce, add the mayonnaise or yogurt to a medium bowl. Zest both limes and add the zest to the mayo.

Halve and squeeze one lime into the mayo – you should get about 2 teaspoons.

Add the salt and black pepper, stir until blended and taste to adjust seasonings.

Cut the other lime into wedges and set aside.

Add the pine nuts to a small, dry skillet. Place over medium heat and cook, tossing and stirring occasionally, until aromatic and golden, about 5-7 minutes. Remove the nuts into a small bowl and set aside.

Spoon about 1/3-1/2 of the sauce on the bottom of a serving platter.

Pile the carrots on top. Spoon the rest of the sauce on top and sprinkle with the mint, chili, pine nuts, a squeeze of one of the reserved lime wedges, flaky sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Then enjoy!

 

Substitutions and variations

No za’atar? No problem! Mix together 1.5 teaspoons fine sea salt, 1 teaspoon each dried thyme, dried oregano and sesame seeds, and 3/4 teaspoon sumac.

The mint can be swapped out for basil or parsley (or I guess cilantro, you know, if you like that kinda thing).

The chili can be any kind you like, such as jalapeños or serranos. They can be seeded or sliced whole for your desired level of heat.

You can also substitute the fresh chili with 1 tsp. red pepper flakes.

The pine nuts can be replaced with pistachios, sliced, toasted almonds, toasted cashews or toasted hazelnuts.

You can use lemons or oranges instead of lime.

To make it vegan, use dairy-free yogurt or use coconut cream from full-fat unsweetened coconut milk or coconut cream (chill the cans in the fridge for at least 24 hours in advance) instead of mayonnaise.

To make it Paleo/Whole30, make sure to use avocado oil mayonnaise or compatible yogurt brands.

To roast the carrots, heat your oven to 425 degrees. Toss the carrot chunks with the oil and za’atar and spread out in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Roast for 30-40 minutes, tossing halfway through.

 

Make ahead

The sauce can be made ahead of time and kept in the fridge for up to 5 days.

The carrots can be grilled ahead of time and refrigerated for up to 3 days, although they will get a bit softer. Bring to room temperature before arranging on a platter.

 

Grilled Carrots with Za'atar and Creamy Lime Sauce on a blue plate on a wooden table surrounded by limes, pine nuts and mint

What is Za’atar?

Your new best friend, that’s what! Za’atar is both an herb and an herb/spice blend used throughout the Middle East.

For our purposes we’re referring to the herb blend, which usually includes sumac (a very small dried fruit), toasted sesame seeds, salt and other dried herbs such as thyme and oregano.

The word I keep coming back to to describe it is “earthy” because, well, that’s what it tastes like. But we can also go with “tangy.”

But also, sumac adds a sour note and the herbs give it a hint of floral.

It all comes together for a spice blend you can use for seasoning meat and veggies, blend into yogurt, mix with olive oil for a bread dip, sprinkle on hummus (like this Grilled Avocado Hummus), or even steep in water for tea

Can’t find za’atar? It’s available online but you can also make an (inauthentic) version of your own with 2 teaspoons fine sea salt, 1 teaspoon each dried thyme, dried oregano and sesame seeds, and 3/4 teaspoon sumac.

 

Other recipes you might like:

  1. Grilled Cabbage Steaks
  2. Chinese-Inspired Roasted Asparagus and Carrots
  3. Easy Roasted Asparagus with Lemon
  4. The 4 Best Ways to Cook Parsnips
2 images of Grilled Carrots with Za'atar and Creamy Lime Sauce on a blue plate on a wooden table surrounded by limes, pine nuts and mint
Grilled Carrots with Za'atar and Creamy Lime Sauce on a blue plate on a wooden table surrounded by limes, pine nuts and mint
Print Recipe
5 from 14 votes

Grilled Carrots with Za'atar and Creamy Lime Sauce

Smoky, caramelized carrots are paired with earthy za'atar, fresh mint and chiles, toasted pine nuts and creamy lime sauce. It's the perfect side dish for summer or all year long!
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time35 mins
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Mediterranean
Keyword: carrots, chiles, limes, mint, pine nuts, za'atar
Servings: 4 people
Author: Don Baiocchi

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds assorted carrots
  • 3 tablespoons avocado oil
  • 1 tablespoon za'atar (see notes)
  • ½ cup avocado oil mayonnaise or dairy-free yogurt (see notes)
  • 2 limes
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • fresh ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 1-2 tablespoons roughly torn or chopped fresh mint
  • 1 fresh red chili pepper, such as Fresno, seeded and diced
  • flaky sea salt

Instructions

  • Heat a gas or charcoal grill to medium heat.
  • Peel and trim the ends off the carrots. Cut crosswise into approx. 3" lengths. Halve lengthwise any thick pieces, or quarter lengthwise if really thick.
  • In a large bowl, toss the carrots with the avocado oil and za'atar until thoroughly coated.
  • Place the carrots on the grill (perpendicular to the grates so they don't fall through) and cover. Grill for 6-10 minutes per side, depending on the thickness of the carrots and the temperature of the grill.
  • To make the sauce, add the mayonnaise to a medium bowl. Zest both limes into the mayo. Halve and squeeze one lime to get about 2 tsp. juice and add to the mayo. Add the salt and fresh ground pepper, stir until blended and taste to adjust seasonings. Cut the other lime into wedges and reserve.
  • Add the pine nuts to a small, dry skillet. Place over medium heat and cook, tossing and stirring occasionally, until aromatic and golden, about 5-7 minutes. Remove the nuts to a small bowl and set aside.
  • Spoon about 1/3-1/2 of the sauce on your serving platter (so the carrots on the bottom get some sauce - everyone likes a saucy bottom). Pile the carrots on top. Spoon the rest of the sauce on top and sprinkle with the mint, chile, pine nuts, a squeeze of a reserved lime wedge, flaky sea salt and fresh ground pepper.

Notes

Substitutions and variations
No za'atar? No problem! Mix together 1.5 teaspoons fine sea salt, 1 teaspoon each dried thyme, dried oregano and sesame seeds, and 3/4 teaspoon sumac.
The mint can be swapped out for basil or parsley (or I guess cilantro, you know, if you like that kinda thing).
The chili can be any kind you like, such as jalapeños or serranos. They can be seeded or sliced whole for your desired level of heat.
You can also substitute the fresh chili with 1 tsp. red pepper flakes.
The pine nuts can be replaced with pistachios, sliced, toasted almonds, toasted cashews or toasted hazelnuts.
You can use lemons or oranges instead of lime.
To make it vegan, use dairy-free yogurt or use coconut cream from full-fat unsweetened coconut milk or coconut cream (chill the cans in the fridge for at least 24 hours in advance) instead of mayonnaise.
To make it Paleo/Whole30, make sure to use avocado oil mayonnaise or compatible yogurt brands.
To roast the carrots, heat your oven to 425 degrees. Toss the carrot chunks with the oil and za'atar and spread out in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Roast for 30-40 minutes, tossing halfway through.
Make ahead
The sauce can be made ahead of time and kept in the fridge for up to 5 days.
The carrots can be grilled ahead of time and refrigerated for up to 3 days, although they will get a bit softer. Bring to room temperature before arranging on a platter.

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Grilled Carrots with Za'atar and Creamy Lime Sauce arranged on a blue plate surrounded by pine nuts, limes and a striped towel on a wooden table


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