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Caramelized Carrots With Lentils, Labneh and Flowering Cilantro

Caramelized Carrots With Lentils, Labneh and Flowering Cilantro 4.000

Goran Kosanovic for The Washington Post

Weeknight Vegetarian Jul 4, 2016

Give carrots the Middle Eastern treatment of sweet, sour and floral flavors.

If you grow cilantro, make this once the plant has bolted, when the feathery leaves, white flowers and green buds taste more like the plant's seed, coriander, and less like the younger leaves.

Where to Buy: Labneh, a sour yogurt cheese, can be found in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean markets. Or you can make your own; see the NOTE, below.


When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 4 servings

  • 1/2 cup dried black (Beluga) or brown lentils, picked over to remove any foreign matter
  • 3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt, plus more as needed
  • Water
  • 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds thin carrots (about 20 carrots), scrubbed well
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/8 teaspoon orange flower water (optional)
  • 2 cups labneh (see headnote and NOTE)
  • 2 cups baby spinach leaves
  • Coarse sea salt, for serving
  • 1 cup lightly packed flowering cilantro (see headnote; may substitute 1/2 cup cilantro, parsley or mint leaves)


Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Combine the lentils in a small saucepan with 1/4 teaspoon of the fine sea salt and enough water to cover by 1 inch. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to medium-low so the liquid is barely bubbling; cook until the lentils are just tender and retain a slight bite, about 20 minutes. Drain off any remaining water; stir in the vinegar and 1 tablespoon of the oil. Taste, and add more fine sea salt as needed.

Pat the carrots dry and divide them between the baking sheets. Toss each batch with another 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt, 1/2 tablespoon of honey and 1/2 tablespoon of oil. Spread the carrots in a single layer, making sure there is at least 1/2 inch between each carrot (to allow for liquid to evaporate quickly). Roast until the carrots are fork-tender, sticky and caramelized, about 25 minutes.

Combine them on one baking sheet, then gently toss them with the lemon juice and the orange flower water, if using. Cool slightly.

Spoon the labneh onto a platter (or divide it among individual plates). Top each portion with loose piles of lentils. Finish with a few alternating layers of carrots, spinach leaves, coarse sea salt and cilantro flowers, and serve.

NOTE: To make labneh, scoop 4 cups of whole-milk Greek yogurt into a cheesecloth-lined strainer and set it over a bowl in the refrigerator to drain overnight. Discard the strained liquid; keep the labneh refrigerated in an airtight container. This makes more than what you'll need for the recipe.

Recipe Source

Adapted from "Dandelion & Quince," by Michelle McKenzie (Roost Books, 2016).

Tested by Joe Yonan.

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Nutritional Facts

Calories per serving: 270

% Daily Values*

Total Fat: 11g 17%

Saturated Fat: 3g 15%

Cholesterol: 5mg 2%

Sodium: 720mg 30%

Total Carbohydrates: 34g 11%

Dietary Fiber: 6g 24%

Sugar: 21g

Protein: 10g

*Percent Daily Value based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Total Fat: Less than 65g

Saturated Fat: Less than 20g

Cholesterol: Less than 300mg

Sodium: Less than 2,400mg

Total Carbohydrates: 300g

Dietary Fiber: 25g

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