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
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
- And a whole lot of time and patience. Don't forget the love!
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!
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?
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!
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!
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!
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