Gluten-free, Side Dishes, Vegan/Vegetarian

Zaatar Roasted Carrots with Labneh

Nicoletta June 10, 2019

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Zaatar Roasted Carrots with Labneh,  an exotic side dish that combines three wonderful ingredients. Small, organic carrots tossed in homemade zaatar spice then roasted to perfection and served alongside a creamy homemade labneh. Flavor, after flavor, texture after texture you’ll be transported to the Middle East in just one mouthful. 

Song of the Day: I’ll Take You There – The Staple Singers

Zaatar Roasted Carrot with Labneh-in the plate-feature

This month, our Eat The World Group is headed to Israel. We have never been there physically, but if there are flavors able to transport us right in the Eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea, these Zaatar Roasted Carrots with Labneh  are surely the fastest route there.




Israel is a small country in the Middle East, with diverse topography, consisting of a lengthy coastal plain, highlands in the north and central regions, and the Negev desert in the south. It is bounded to the north by Lebanon, to the northeast by Syria, to the east and southeast by Jordan, to the southwest by Egypt, and to the west by the Mediterranean Sea. Jerusalem is the seat of government and the proclaimed capital.

Eat the World – Israel

Israeli cuisine is a great melting pot in which flavors and traditions of different countries are mixed. The flavors of North Africa, the Middle East, and central and eastern Europe meet in some of the dishes with all their baggage of stories and traditions and blend into the country’s gastronomic offer. But two souls characterize it the most: the Jewish one with the “kosher” tradition and the Arab one with the typical Middle Eastern flavors.


The zaatar is a mixture of herbs used throughout the Middle East. Generally, the zaatar includes thyme, oregano, marjoram, sesame, sumac, and salt, but each family has its own recipe for preparing this fragrant mix.

Zaatar has the flavor of some European herbs, such as thyme and marjoram, combined with the toasted taste of sesame and the sour, citrusy, aftertaste of sumac. Zaatar is consumed in abundance in all the Middle Eastern Countries. In Israel, they consume so much zaatar that the herbs used to prepare it have become protected species at risk of extinction.

Our Zatar Mix:

We made our own zaatar using coriander seeds, cumin seeds, sumac, dried thyme, toasted sesame seeds, salt, and chili powder. The aroma is amazing, so exotic!


One of the most popular dips in Israel and the Middle East is labneh, a beloved white and creamy cheese made by straining the liquid out of yogurt until it takes on a consistency close to that of a soft cheese similar to cream cheese. Labneh is most commonly served as a dip for warm pita, sprinkled with fresh herbs and finished with a healthy drizzle of olive oil and maybe a squeeze of lemon.

Nothing like homemade…….

As you can see, we made our own labneh, and I have to say it was quite easy. Loreto helped me with the cheesecloth constructing this support out of a chopstick so the bundle could hang freely in the pitcher and drain the water out of the whole milk Greek yogurt.

3 ingredients are all you need………
  • Whole milk Greek yogurt
  • E.V.O. oil
  • Salt
  • And a whole lot of time and patience. Don’t forget the love!

Zaatar Roasted Carrot with Labneh-labneh and zaatar

It’s all about carrots……….

One thing we like to do is farmers market shopping, wonderful products grown and made by passionate people loving what they do. We bought these carrots from Steve and Dan’s stand a frequent farmers market vendor on our 124 Street Grand Market. They are not too big, sweet, crisp, and aromatic. The perfect profile to be slathered in that zaatar and olive oil. Loreto wasted no time in getting his hands into the action massaging all those spices into these jewels of nature! 

Zaatar Roasted Carrot with Labneh-dressing carrots

Time to bake……..

Once the carrots are nice and coated with the zaatar, onto a baking sheet they go. However, make sure not to pile them onto one another. Just a single layer, nicely spaced apart. This will achieve that beautiful caramelization and char we want to give, even another layer of flavor.

Don’t they look absolutely tempting?

Zaatar Roasted Carrot with Labneh-in the pan


If you want to get those carrots nice and roasted, heat up the baking dish prior to placing the seasoned carrots on. You are going to hear a beautiful sizzle, hence sizzle equals flavor and texture!

Zaatar Roasted Carrot with Labneh-in the pan-closeup

Aroma is the key to hunger……….

The labneh with its acidic subtle fragrance accompanied by the exotic aroma of the zaatar and that lovely olive oil and lemon scent has our stomachs growling. Let’s Eat!

Zaatar Roasted Carrot with Labneh-in the plate-closeup

We’re in LOVE……..

This labneh is amazing, so creamy and flavorful. I am eating it right off the spoon, however, with the combination of beautifully roasted carrots all sultry and sweet with the zaatar and its natural sugars, I am a very smitten foodie. The parsley is such a wonderful way to garnish and absolutely love its peppery backdrop. We can call this a side dish, however, we feel like we can eat this as a main any day!

Zaatar Roasted Carrots with Labneh-text on picture

Every month Loreto and I are so excited to hear where we are going next on our Eat the World food travel train. We are experiencing so many wonderful dishes and learning a lot about cultures too, which is always a blessing. Come with us on this adventure and try these Zaatar Roasted Carrots with Labneh, you will be transported to an exotic place deep inside your foodie’s heart!

Enjoy! And if you want to make a typical dessert from Israel, we have a delicious  Semolina Cake soaked in Orange Blossom Syrup.

Song of the Day: I’ll Take You There – The Staple Singers

Check out all the wonderful Israeli dishes prepared by fellow Eat the World members and share with #eattheworld. Click here to find out how to join and have fun exploring a country a month in the kitchen with us!

Camilla, Culinary Adventures with Camilla: Limonana
Sue at Palatable Pastime: Lemony Roasted Garlic Hummus with Herb Toasted Pita
Pandemonium Noshery: Grilled Chicken Shawarma
April, Home Sweet Homestead: Israeli Yellow Rice
Margaret: Israeli Watermelon, Cucumber & Feta Salad
Loreto and Nicoletta, Sugarlovespices (Us!): Zaatar Roasted Carrots with Labneh
A Day in the Life on the Farm: Date Glazed Beef Kebabs
Evelyne: Burnt Eggplant Salad Green Tahini Dressing
Amy, Amy’s Cooking Adventures: Chicken Albondigas

Zaatar Roasted Carrot with Labneh-in the pan

Zaatar Roasted Carrots with Labneh

  • Author: Nicoletta and Loreto
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 2-3 servings 1x
  • Category: Side dish
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: Middle Eastern


Zaatar Roasted Carrots with Labneh,  an exotic side dish that combines three wonderful ingredients. Small, organic carrots tossed in homemade zaatar spice then roasted to perfection and served alongside a creamy homemade labneh. Flavor, after flavor, texture after texture you’ll be transported to the Middle East in just one mouthful.


For the Labneh (adapted on a recipe from NOPI by Yotam Ottolenghi & Ramael Scully):

  • 1 cup organic Greek yogurt, better full fat
  • 1 Tbsp evo oil
  • 1/4 tsp salt

For the Zaatar spice (from a recipe found on Feasting at Home):

  • 1 Tbsp dried thyme, crushed
  • 1 Tbsp cumin seeds, toasted and crushed
  • 1 Tbsp coriander seeds, toasted and crushed
  • 1 Tbsp toasted  sesame seeds
  • 1 Tbsp sumac
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp chili flakes

For the Carrots:

  • 350 g carrots
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp e.v.o. oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp zaatar spice
  • 2 Tbsp parsley
  • 1/4 lemon


For the Labneh:

  1. In a small bowl mix together the yogurt, the evo oil, and the salt.
  2. Place on a clean square of cheesecloth, draw up the sides, close it with a string and hang it inside a tall and narrow pitcher making sure it hangs inside freely and does not touch the bottom of the pitcher.
  3. Leave it in the refrigerator for 24 hours to drain out the excess water. If you are short on time you can squeeze the cloth from time to time.
  4. Once ready, open the cheesecloth and use dollops of labneh, drizzled with evo oil (and maybe sprinkled with herbs and a drizzle of lemon juice). You can store any leftover in a jar with some oil until ready to use.

For the Zaatar spice:

  1. In a small pan over medium heat, toast cumin seeds, and coriander seeds until fragrant, about 2 minutes, then grind or crush with a mortar and pestle.  (If you don’t have whole seeds, you can use ground spices).
  2. In a small bowl, add the toasted and ground cumin and coriander, sesame seeds, crushed thyme, sumac, salt, and chili flakes. Mix well. Store in a jar.

For the Carrots:

  1. Preheat oven to 425° F. Place a baking sheet in the oven and leave it there as the oven preheats.
  2. Clean the carrots, add them to a bowl with the evo oil and salt. Mix with your hands to combine.
  3. Add the zaatar spice and toss.
  4. Carefully remove the baking sheet from the oven. Arrange carrots in a single layer. Bake in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes or until fork tender and caramelized, stirring once after the 10-minute mark.
  5. Remove the baking sheet from the oven. Place the carrots on a platter. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and lemon juice.
  6. Place dollops of labneh on the sides of the carrots. Drizzle evo oil on the labneh and carrots.
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Zaatar Roasted Carrot with Labneh-in the plate

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  • Avatar
    Reply Juli June 10, 2019 at 8:55 am

    Looks delicious! I love za’atar and labneh, I can’t wait to try them with carrots!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta June 10, 2019 at 9:17 pm

      The three together are unbeatable! Thank you!

  • Avatar
    Reply Evelyne June 10, 2019 at 10:03 am

    Love your dish so much. I am a fan of both zaatar and labneh. I have made my own labneh, so easy. Glad you did too. And so impressed you made your zaatar from scratch. Perfect Israeli dish!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta June 10, 2019 at 9:18 pm

      They’re both quite easy to make, plus, we had fun in the kitchen 😉 . Thanks!

  • Avatar
    Reply Wendy Klik June 10, 2019 at 4:22 pm

    I love everything about this dish. I especially like how you and Loreto work together so seamlessly. You can feel the love for each other and for the food being prepared.

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta June 10, 2019 at 9:19 pm

      Thank you! Yes, we work well together in the kitchen. This dish was amazing!

  • Avatar
    Reply Amy's Cooking Adventures June 10, 2019 at 4:56 pm

    I love roasted carrots! These look fabulous!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta June 10, 2019 at 9:22 pm

      And these are not your regular roasted carrots 🙂 . They are pretty amazing! Thanks!

  • Avatar
    Reply Margaret@Kitchen Frau June 10, 2019 at 8:21 pm

    Wow – I can just imagine how sweet those carrots get when they’re caramelized like they are in your beautiful photos. And the za’atar and labneh – I love them both. What a wonderful foil they are for each other; the one so cool and creamy and the other so full of intense flavour. A fantastic dish from you both!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta June 10, 2019 at 9:23 pm

      Thank you, Margaret, they are indeed the best carrots we’ve had so far. All the ingredients together are like a symphony.

  • Avatar
    Reply JustineCelina June 11, 2019 at 11:40 am

    These carrots look just divine! I’ve been really into roasted carrots lately and all the nuances in this recipe really take it to the next level. Beautiful work, as always!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta June 11, 2019 at 1:52 pm

      Awww thanks! If you already love roasted carrots you would love these zaatar roasted ones. The flavor is amazing, and everything comes together with the labneh.

  • Avatar
    Reply Joss June 11, 2019 at 11:54 am

    I love this Middle Eastern side dish, so interesting!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta June 11, 2019 at 1:54 pm

      Thanks! Beautiful spices make for very interesting dishes. We loved how these carrots turned out. Not the same old (boring) carrots 🙂 .

  • Avatar
    Reply Bernice Hill June 11, 2019 at 12:26 pm

    Mmmmm, this is one of my favourite ways to eat carrots! I love that you made the za’atar and labneh yourself. I really need to find the time to contribute to the challenge!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta June 11, 2019 at 1:55 pm

      Thank you Bernice! It’s fun to be part of this group! As for the carrots, I am repeating myself here, best carrots ever! 🙂

  • Avatar
    Reply Jessica June 11, 2019 at 2:41 pm

    YUM! I love the use of zaatar spice on the carrots and have always wanted to know how to make labneh! So basically this recipe is perfect for me – can’t wait to try it 🙂

  • Avatar
    Reply Sabrina June 13, 2019 at 5:07 pm

    What a wonderful, delicious and healthy recipe. I love the tanginess of the labneh paired with the sweetness of the carrots, delicious!

  • Avatar
    Reply Nicole June 13, 2019 at 10:02 pm

    Roasted carrots are my absolute fave! Bonus points that you actually made your own Labneh – that takes patience! This whole recipe is a combination of amazing flavours. I can’t wait to try this with carrots straight from my garden.

  • Avatar
    Reply Sean@Diversivore June 14, 2019 at 2:41 pm

    Outstanding recipe, and a great way to do something a little different with carrots. Between the za’atar and the labneh, I feel like you’ve really taken this somewhere different and delicious. I can imagine it’d be even more wonderful with fresh, young carrots straight out of the garden!

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