An easy, make-ahead holiday side dish of roasted carrots, fennel, and onions, dressed in a delicious sesame seed vinaigrette. Vegan, GF, Top 8 Free.
Those of you who follow me on Facebook or Instagram (buttons on the right will take you to my pages) may have seen this delicious side dish that I brought to Thanksgiving: Roasted Carrots, Fennel, and Onions. As the title implies, these veggies are all roasted until the edges are browned and sweetened. As the title does NOT imply, the veggies are then tossed in a sesame seed vinaigrette just before serving, and fresh mint leaves are sprinkled on top. This dish was published in Bon Appetit, and I made a few modifications to accommodate my tastes (and more importantly, what I had in the pantry).
What’s so great about roasting three relatively boring vegetables, you might ask? Maybe you don’t even like fennel, like most of the civilized world, and you’re already clicking over to another page. As it turns out, roasting these vegetables not only mellows out the more pungent flavors of raw onion and fennel, but sweetens them as well. The most notable transformation is the flavor profile for the fennel; the sharp, licorice taste all but disappears, and instead you’re left with sweet, caramelized notes. If you think you don’t like fennel, try it roasted. You may be surprised. (And, if you do like it, check it out in this recipe as well).
Finally, the dressing. Something about roasting vegetables and then dressing them takes the dish from “weeknight” to “holiday” or perhaps “professional chef”. The original recipe called for raw sunflower seeds, but I found that mine had gone stale just beforehand. I made the quick decision to substitute sesame seeds, and it worked out well. I didn’t have Hungarian hot paprika (note to friends/Mom: please buy me this for Christmas), so I used smoked paprika instead, and cut down on the amount. The dressing was smoky, but not overpowering, and the vinegar and lemon added some much needed brightness and acidity to the dish. It would make a great salad dressing on just about anything.
To be honest, this was one of the easiest, no-fuss Thanksgiving side dishes I’ve ever made. I cut the veggies and made the dressing the night before, stored everything in the fridge, and then roasted the veggies in the morning. We had a two hour drive to our Thanksgiving dinner, so I packed everything separately with ice packs, and it all traveled well. The dish tastes great served at room temperature, so no reheating or using precious oven space to worry about. This dish is top 8 allergen free (no milk, egg, wheat, soy, peanut, tree nuts, fish, or shellfish. It does contain sesame seeds, so keep in mind if you’re allergic). It is also gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegan.
Roasted Carrots and Fennel
Caramelized carrots, fennel, and onions tossed in a sesame seed vinaigrette and topped with fresh mint; the perfect vegan side dish for any holiday meal. Adapted from Bon Appetit's Roasted Carrots and Onions with Fennel and Mint.
- 2 lb carrots peeled and cut into 3 inch pieces
- 2 red onions peeled, cut into 1/8ths, and left in wedges
- 3 small-medium fennel bulbs green parts removed; white parts cut into 1/8ths, and left in wedges,
- 5 tbsp olive oil divided
- 1 tbsp raw sesame seeds
- 1 tsp coriander seeds roughly chopped or lightly ground in a mortar and pestle
- 1/2 tsp Aleppo pepper or crushed red pepper flakes
- 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
- 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 10-15 mint leaves, torn or roughly chopped
- salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 425° F. Place carrots, onions, and fennel each on separate rimmed baking sheets. Drizzle each sheet with 1 Tbsp oil (so 3 Tbsp total). Season with salt and pepper, and toss to coat evenly.
Roast, tossing occasionally, until cooked through and crispy and brown on edges; about 25 minutes for carrots and about 40 minutes for onions and fennel. If your oven is not large enough to hold three baking sheets, you can roast the veggies in batches. Remove from the oven, and let cool on the baking sheets.
While the vegetables are baking, in a small pan add sesame seeds, coriander seeds, Aleppo pepper, paprika, and 2 Tbsp oil. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until oil is gently bubbling and spices become fragrant, about 2 minutes. Let cool. Stir in vinegar and lemon juice, and season with salt and pepper.
In a large bowl or platter, toss vegetables and dressing together. Just before serving, sprinkle with torn mint leaves.
The dressing can be made the day before, and the vegetables can be roasted up to 6 hours ahead. If preparing ahead of time, toss the vegetables with the dressing just before serving. and then top with mint. This dish can be served warm or at room temperature.