Grilled Carrots with Couscous and Tangy Dill Mint Dressing
Ok, I know most people think of carrots as a fall/winter food, but carrots are way more than an add-in for a stew or a mushy, flavorless side dish… this recipe gives them a really fresh, springy (even summery!) vibe. These carrots with a tangy mint dill dressing is healthy and bright, and it reminds me of this amazing appetizer I had at a restaurant called Pumpkin here in Philly. They do a “farm to table” style and change their menu often, so everything is super fresh and creative. When Seb and I went there for date night, I chose this appetizer with carrots, pickled radishes, couscous and a mint dressing and at first bite I knew I was gonna have to recreate an easier version of this at home ASAP.
Fast forward to the next day, I got all the ingredients and got to work, but added a few of my own twists, of course. I wanted to make my version using a mix of chopped and whole carrots for a rustic, family style presentation. You can also serve this as an entree with 2 carrots on a plate, which you can watch in my YouTube cooking class, which I’ve linked below! In that video, I outline every step of the recipe and show you how it’s done!
I really wanted the carrots to be the star of the dish here. In order to take them from “sweet and hearty carrot” to super flavorful carrots that are bright and salty, I blanched them before grilling them. I really recommend that you don’t leave this blanching step out. Yes, I bolded that so you wouldn’t skip over it. If you do skip the blanching, the carrots aren’t going be half as flavorful and they will be way too crunchy in a raw carrot kind of way. Blanching them for a few minutes allows for them to still maintain crunchiness, but also to become fork tender as well and kind of melt in the mouth with every bite. For those who don’t know, blanching is a cooking technique that involves quickly submerging usually a fruit or veggie into super hot boiling water, then immediately transferring them to an ice bath. This helps to preserve their crunch factor and color so when they hit the grill you have already gotten a head start on getting a tender but crunchy carrot.
Part of my mission here is to make amazing, delicious food accessible and not so intimidating, so I like to keep it real with you guys and let you know when and where short cuts can be made. These carrots are going over a bed of couscous and honestly, just pick your favorite brand and make it according to the box instructions. I used a bulgur wheat couscous- you could use Israeli couscous or another type. But in terms of texture and flavor, I think bulgur or moroccan (smaller) couscous works best.
I chose to grill the carrots because we just got a new grill and I am sooo excited to get to work!! Nothing gets hot like a grill, so it’s a must for making anything nice and charred and bubbly (I know this might not sound great, but it tastes amazing). Plus those grill marks just add a beautiful touch to any dish, and it makes it look like you really know your way around a kitchen.
What if I don’t have a grill?
If you don’t have a grill, a grill pan works just fine. I have a couple that I like, and you can check them out on my Amazon shop if you need one! If you want to just roast the carrots in the oven, make sure you are using a really high temp like 475 ℉. Prepare them the same way you would if you were grilling them, but just throw them into a hot hot oven and roast for 20 minutes or so, and you should still get some nice char and heat bubbles forming.
This dish is FULL of lightness and brightness and flavor and I just love it all through the spring and summer time. The carrots are a little sweet, crunchy, salty… and all those herbs in the dressing add a really nice tang and cooling vibe to the dish. Dill and mint are a match made in heaven, and fresh oregano if you have it laying around really takes it to the next level.
I can’t have dairy, how should I make this dressing dairy free?
The dressing does have some greek yogurt in it, just because I like a little creaminess and a little more acidity but if you’re lactose intolerant you can just skip it, or use a dairy-free yogurt or even vegan sour cream (just a little bit!).
|1box bulgur wheat couscous|
|1/2cup red wine vinegar|
|1/4cup kosher salt|
|2large bunches rainbow carrots, stems on and trimmed to be 1 inch long|
|Olive oil, to taste|
|Kosher salt, to taste|
|Pepper, to taste|
|1cup fresh dill sprigs|
|1handful mint (approx 1 bunch)|
|1/3cup extra virgin olive oil|
|1tsp agave nectar (can sub honey)|
|2tbsp lime juice, plus more to taste if needed|
|Pinch of salt|
|2tbsp whole milk Greek yogurt|
|Grill, grill pan or sheet pan (depending on how you prefer to cook them)|
Prepare the couscous according to package instructions; set aside.
Preheat grill to 500-600°. (Oven to 475°-500° if using oven)
Add the red wine vinegar and salt to a stock pot 3/4 full with water and bring to a boil. Mix to dissolve the salt.
Prepare an ice bath in a large bowl that will fit the carrots.
Wash and peel the carrots and cut the stems. *Optional: leave 1-2 inches of stem on top of the carrots for a rustic look.
Cut the carrots into 2 pieces, separating the thin parts from the thick parts. For smaller carrots, feel free to leave them whole. The goal is to create similar sizes so that they will cook as evenly as possible
Once the water is boiling, blanch the carrots. Skinnier pieces boil for 4 minutes, thicker pieces for 6 minutes. Check to make sure they are fork tender before removing. NOTE: Fork tender means the fork should be able to slide through the carrot and hold it without a struggle.If it's difficult to prick the carrot (or if it feels raw) let them boil longer. On the other side of the spectrum, you do not want to the carrots to be soft or mushy and to feel fully boiled.
Remove the carrots from the boiling water and immediately submerge in ice bath.
Grill not required, you can use a grill pan or sheet pan if you don’t have access to a grill!
Lactose Intolerance: leave out greek yogurt, or swap for dairy-free yogurt or a small amount of dairy-free sour cream.
Add a handful of fresh oregano to the dressing if you have it!
Gluten-free: Sub bulgur wheat couscous for GF version, or use rice or grain of choice.