A deliciously colourful salad with roasted heirloom carrots and red onions layered on top of a bed of chewy pearl couscous, fresh mint and chopped almonds. A salad that satisfies.
Why I Love Roasted Heirloom Carrots with Pearl Couscous
When I see multi-coloured carrots, it sparks joy. I have no idea why, but it does! Just so pretty and when roasted, the sweetness of heirloom carrots are even more elevated.
To match with the roast lamb we were having for dinner, I wanted to create a roast vegetable dish but not too heavy.
Using heirloom carrots and pearl couscous, this is a lighter side dish in comparison to roast potatoes or pumpkin for the roast lamb.
Coating the roasted heirloom carrots with toasted cumin seeds adds warmth and earthy flavours.
Layered with roasted red onions on top of a bed of chewy pearl couscous, mint and chopped almonds, this is a flavoursome pearl couscous recipe.
What Are Heirloom Carrots?
Have you seen the term heirloom attached to a carrot bunch and wondered what heirloom carrots are? Are heirloom carrots passed down from generation to generation like a piece of heirloom jewellery?
Well, technically, yes. An heirloom variety is an old cultiver of the plant that is grown commonly in earlier periods of human consumption but not commercially cultivated.
They are maintained and grown by farmers or minority communities for their own personal consumption and handed down from one family to another for many generations.
So when you see all the different coloured or funny shaped carrots, these are not new varieties of carrots or genetic modification gone crazy, they are most likely heirloom carrots making a comeback in the modern world.
Whenever you visit the grocery store, you usually only see orange carrots. Commercially grown, this variety of carrots are the most common.
However, you may not know that carrots also come in other colours – white, yellow, red, magenta and purple. And sometimes, the colour of the outside of the carrot is different to the colour on the inside!
Do Different Coloured Carrots Taste the Same?
No, there are subtle differences in taste and flavour.
White or cream coloured carrots have a milder flavour and less earthy than the others. They are also considered to be sweeter.
I find purple coloured varieties of carrots more robust. Sweet but earthy. I love grating them for slaws or other salads to create awesome colour.
Red carrots are probably the most similar to orange carrots in flavour. The red colour comes from lycopene, the same antioxidant in tomatoes.
How to Make Roasted Heirloom Carrots with Pearl Couscous
How to Roast Heirloom Carrots and Onion
If you can’t find heirloom carrots at your local greengrocer, you can substitute with dutch carrots.
Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F).
If you have smaller varieties of heirloom carrots, there is no need to peel, just a good rinse under water and scrub off any excess dirt especially around the top. Trim off the green tops.
Over medium heat, dry roast cumin seeds for 2 minutes to release the aromates. They may start popping in the pan.
In a mixing bowl place toasted cumin seeds, heirloom carrots, olive oil and salt together. Toss well.
At the same time, you can roast the red onions. Peel and cut the red onion into half. Then cut each half into thirds. You end up with 6 pieces per onion.
Place heirloom carrots with toasted cumin seeds on one side of the sheet pan and red onions on the other side. Drizzle the red onions with olive oil and season with sea salt.
Roast in the oven for 20 minutes or until tender and browned.
Remove roasted heirloom carrots and red onions from the oven once done.
How to Make Pearl Couscous
Pearl couscous is also known as Israeli couscous. Although both made from semolina, pearl couscous is quite different to couscous.
Pearl couscous is larger with a more chewy texture and nutty taste. If you are looking for another pearl couscous recipe, you can try our deliciously easy Blistered Tomato and Basil Salad with Israeli Couscous.
Pearl couscous is not gluten free as it is made from semolina, a granule of durum wheat.
Take 1 cup of pearl couscous and give it a rinse before cooking.
In a medium saucepan, add pearl couscous and then top up with 1 ½ cups of vegetable stock. Simmer gently over medium heat with the lid on for about 10 minutes.
If you don’t have vegetable stock, you can use water as well.
It is cooked through when the tiny balls have puffed up and the texture is al dente.
Prepare the Salad
Wash and roughly chop mint leaves
Over medium heat, dry roast whole almonds for a couple of minutes. Then remove from heat and roughly chop.
How to Make the Honey Dijon Dressing
This is a versatile and straightforward dressing you can use in any everyday leafy green salad or roasted root vegetables like beetroot or parsnips.
In a small mixing bowl, whisk together olive oil, apple cider vinegar, honey and dijon mustard. Add salt and pepper to taste.
How to Assemble Heirloom Carrots Salad
In a large mixing bowl, place pearl couscous, roasted red onions, mint leaves and ½ almonds together. Add ¾ honey
Dijon dressing into the bowl and toss well.
Use a large serving platter and tumble the pearl couscous and red onions mixture onto the platter.
Now place the roasted heirloom carrots into the mixing bowl and dress with remaining honey Dijon dressing. Mix and then tumble on top of the pearl couscous and red onion mixture.
Scatter remaining chopped almonds and serve.
Perfect for cooler nights, serve with a cozy vegetable tagine to create a delicious vegetarian meal or create a hearty roast dinner.
Definitely an easy one to share with friends or eat it alone. I think you will love it.
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Roasted Heirloom Carrots with Pearl Couscous
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- In a medium pot, add 1 tbsp olive oil and gently toast the dried pearl couscous for 1-2 minutes. Then add 1 ½ cup of vegetable and simmer in a covered pot for approximately 10 minutes. Use a fork to separate the grains and remove to cool down.
- Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F).
- Wash heirloom carrots and trim the tops. Peel them if you need to.
- Over medium heat, dry roast cumin seeds for 2 minutes to release the aromates.
- In a mixing bowl place toasted cumin seeds, heirloom carrots, ¼ tsp olive oil and salt together. Toss well.
- Peel and cut the red onion into half. Then cut each half into thirds. You end up with 6 pieces per onion.
- Place heirloom carrots with toasted cumin seeds on one side of the sheet pan and red onions on the other side. Drizzle the red onions with 1 tsp olive oil and season with sea salt.
- Roast in the oven for 20 minutes or until tender and browned.
- Remove roasted heirloom carrots and red onions from the oven once done.Wash and roughly chop mint leaves.Over medium heat, dry roast whole almonds for a couple of minutes. Then remove from heat and roughly chop.
- Wash and roughly chop mint leaves.
- Over medium heat, dry roast whole almonds for a couple of minutes. Then remove from heat and roughly chop.
- In a small mixing bowl, mix all the salad dressing ingredients together.
- Add salt and pepper to taste.
- In a large mixing bowl, place pearl couscous, roasted red onions, mint leaves and ½ almonds together.
- Add ¾ honey dijon dressing into the bowl and toss well.
- Use a large serving platter and tumble the pearl couscous and red onions mixture onto the platter.
- Now place the roasted heirloom carrots into the mixing bowl and dress with remaining honey dijon dressing.
- Mix together and then tumble on top of the pearl couscous and red onion mixture.
- Scatter remaining chopped almonds and serve.
- If you can’t find heirloom carrots, dutch carrots work the same.
- For a vegan salad recipe, substitute honey with maple syrup or rice malt syrup.
- You can substitute vegetable stock for water when cooking pearl couscous.
- For a nut free option, switch the almonds for pumpkin or sunflower seeds.
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