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While you can’t go wrong with ordinary roasted carrots and parsnips, there are times, especially during the holiday season, when you might crave something a bit more glamorous. I have the solution, and although it does require a few special ingredients, it takes hardly more effort than the typical roasted vegetable.

Roasting carrots and parsnips in a hot oven turns them tender and sweet with crispy, caramelized edges. Whenever possible, I like to pair parsnips with carrots because they balance the sweetness with an earthy, somewhat spiced flavor. (However, you can make this without parsnips; just increase the amount of carrots.) I’ve also included chickpeas in this dish; added to the roasting pan partway through, they aren’t crunchy like fully roasted chickpeas but still soft and chewy with a beautiful golden color. For vegetarian diners, this is also a nice way to get extra protein.

But those are just the basics. What makes this dish really come alive are the Mediterranean touches like a sprinkle of urfa biber (a smoky-fruity pepper from Turkey), a drizzle of gorgeous pomegranate molasses and a bit of good feta, crumbled on top just before serving. Elegant but not complicated, this dish is just the thing to both comfort and awaken the palate on a cold day.

Sweet and Spicy Roasted Carrots, Parsnips and Chickpeas

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Serves 4

1 pound carrots

½ pound parsnips

3 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1 ½ teaspoons urfa biber (see ingredient note below)

¼ teaspoon coarse kosher salt

½ cup cooked chickpeas

1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses (see ingredient note below)

2 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (½ cup)

1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Peel carrots and parsnips, or just scrub well, and halve lengthwise. (If carrots are small and slender, leave them whole. If parsnips are large, quarter them lengthwise, cut out the woody center, and, if necessary, continue to cut into thinner strips to match carrot size.)

Toss carrots and parsnips with 2 tablespoons olive oil, urfa biber and salt. Spread in a single layer on a large rimmed baking sheet and place in oven to roast. Toss chickpeas in remaining olive oil.

After 15 minutes, turn carrots and parsnips, add chickpeas and roast for another 10 minutes. Then toss with pomegranate molasses and roast for another 5 minutes or until vegetables are tender and golden.

Remove from oven, toss with feta and parsley, and serve.

Ingredient note: Both urfa biber, also known as Isot pepper, and pomegranate molasses are available at Middle Eastern groceries. If you don’t have good ethnic grocery options near you, both ingredients can be bought online. Simply type each term into an Internet search engine and multiple options will present themselves. One good online source is Spice Station (

Emily Ho is a writer for, a nationally known blog for people who love food and home cooking. Submit any comments or questions to

(c) 2012, APARTMENT THERAPY. Distributed by Tribune Media Services

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