Roasted Carrots and Dates with Pistachio Pesto

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These Roasted Carrots and Dates are a gourmet, crowd pleasing side dish but are easy to make and made with affordable ingredients. A colorful, flavor-packed recipe that would make any holiday table sing!
Prep 25 minutes
Cook 30 minutes
Total 55 minutes
5 from 24 votes

With the holiday season here, I’m so excited to share this unique holiday side dish: Roasted Carrots and Dates with Pistachio Pesto. It’s gourmet but made with every day, affordable ingredients, all of which you can find at your local grocery store.

As much as I love holiday meals, I usually get tired of the same traditional dishes each year. To avoid that, I intersperse some new, unique dishes alongside a few favorite classics (like these Mashed Potatoes). I also insist on having a couple brighter dishes, especially those that pack an acidic punch. This is because holiday dishes are usually so rich and creamy and lacking in fresh, sharp flavors, so the entire meal often feels very unbalanced.

Table of contents:
1. Why you’ll love this recipe
2. Step-by-step instructions
3. Tips for making this recipe
4. Frequently Asked Questions
5. More vegetable side dishes for the holidays
6. Recipe card with notes

big plate of roasted carrots, red onions and dates covered in pesto.

And these roasted carrots and dates with pistachio pesto bring that fresh pizzazz that your holiday dinner needs. All of the flavors and textures work so harmoniously together that it’s guaranteed to be a hit. 

When roasted at high heat, carrots and onions get caramelized and perfectly tender, and briefly roasting the dates enhances their sweet chewiness. Layering a few slightly sweet ingredients like this produces a complex flavor dimension, which gets further enhanced by the salty, tangy flavors in the pistachio pesto and the subtle heat in the seed sprinkle. 

Why you’ll love this recipe

Gourmet flavors for the holiday table. If you’re like me, you want your holiday dishes to really impress your guests. And in this dish, every bite is an elegant and beautiful balance of sweet, salty, savory, and tangy. Your guests will definitely be asking for this recipe! 

But simple, quick, and affordable! While the carrots and onions roast, you can make the pistachio pesto and seed sprinkle. The pesto just requires you to blend a handful of ingredients and the seed sprinkle takes all but 5 minutes. 

And using a few produce staples and pantry staples like nuts, seeds, and dried fruit make this gourmet dish surprisingly affordable, which is always a bonus during the otherwise pricey holiday season.

various bottles and bags of ingredients used in this recipe.

Wholesome but indulgent. The sweetness of the carrots and dates, the creaminess of the pesto, the crunch of the seed sprinkle work together to make this feel like an almost indulgent dish. But it’s made of nourishing whole foods, like carrots, onions, dates, nuts, and seeds.  

Versatile leftovers: you’ll likely end up with some leftover pistachio pesto and seed sprinkle, which is awesome because these tasty condiments can jazz up nearly any meal. Check out the “Tips” section below for some ideas! 

Close up photo of finished carrots and dates dish.

Step-by-step instructions

Peel the carrots. For medium carrots, bisect lengthwise (for fat carrots, quarter lengthwise). Cut into 2-inch pieces (on a diagonal).

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Peel the onion but don’t slice off the root end. Slice in half and cut into 1-inch wedges, keeping the core intact as much as possible.  

Gently toss the onions and carrots with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Transfer to two rimmed baking sheets and spread out.

Roast at 425ºF for 20-25 minutes, tossing halfway through. Scatter the chopped dates across the pans and bake for another 5-8 minutes, until carrots and onions are nicely browned and tender.

Meanwhile, make the pistachio pesto. Add the pistachios, parsley, lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic, salt, and pepper to a food processor. I typically buy unshelled pistachios (I love cracking them open!), but you can also buy shelled pistachios to shave off a couple minutes!

Blend until a paste forms. Gradually stream the olive oil in with the motor running, scraping down as you go. If needed, add a tablespoon or two of water to get a creamy, spoonable consistency.

Meanwhile, also make the seed sprinkle. Heat a frying pan over medium heat until warm. Add the olive oil, pepitas, paprika, cumin, red pepper flakes, cayenne, and a pinch of salt. Stir almost continuously for 2 minutes, or until golden brown and toasty.

Assemble the dish. Transfer the roasted carrots, onions, and dates to a large plate or serving platter.

Drizzle some of the pistachio pesto on top.

Scatter some seed sprinkle on top and enjoy!

Seed sprinkle added on top of dish.

Tips for making this recipe 

Size of carrots. If your carrots are fat, cut them lengthwise in quarters before cutting into 2-inch pieces. If they’re on the average size, cut them lengthwise in half. Very skinny? You can actually leave them whole. If your carrots are a lot fatter on top than the bottom, cut these sections according to the above descriptions. 

Depending on the size of your carrots, roast the carrots and onions for 20 or 25 minutes before adding the dates. 

Dates. If you’re using whole dates, be sure to pit and chop them into small pieces. Don’t leave the dates in the oven for more than 8 minutes to prevent them from burning. 

Seed sprinkle. When making the seed sprinkle, be sure to stir continuously to prevent the spices from burning. 

Don’t waste the leftovers! Leftover pistachio pesto will stay good in the fridge for up to 1 week, and it’s a great way to round out a grain bowl or salad, or to drizzle on other veggies or tofu. You can also use it as a sandwich spread! I particularly love it paired with a fennel and citrus salad (the flavors are SO good together). It would also be lovely with roasted beets, as in this Roasted Beet Salad

The seed sprinkle will stay good in the pantry for a few weeks (store in an airtight jar). It adds such a fun, salty and slightly spicy crunch to salads, soups, and all kinds of bowl meals. I particularly love it in a burrito bowl using my Black Beans with Sofrito (you can find that recipe in my earlier YouTube video “I ate like a king on just $5 a day!”). 

Finished carrot and date dish on a brown plate.

Frequently Asked Questions 

How should I serve this dish? Can I turn it into a main meal? 

This is a pretty satisfying side dish, thanks to the pesto and seed sprinkle, but you can always turn it into a main meal. Just add some cooked chickpeas or lentils to the carrots/onions/dates, then drizzle on the pesto. You could also bulk it up by serving the dish on top of a bed of brown rice or quinoa. 

If you’re looking for a main dish that will complement these flavors, I suggest my Vegan Shepherd’s Pie or my Creamy Lentil Stuffed Butternut Squash.

Can I make this nut-free?

Sure. You won’t get the same flavor and creaminess from pistachios, but you could easily sub pepitas (shelled pumpkin seeds) for the pesto. 

Should this dish be served warm or cold?

Warm, or at room temperature! Either is great.  

Can I make this dish ahead of time? How should I store leftovers?

Yes. You can roast the carrots and dates a couple days in advance and then reheat them in the oven at 350ºF until warmed through.

You can make the pesto 3-4 days ahead of time and store in a jar in the fridge (it should last for 1 week). You can make the seed sprinkle ahead of time too; it will stay good in your pantry (in an airtight container or reusable bag) for 2 to 3 weeks.

Just before serving, assemble the dish: spoon the pesto on the carrots and dates and top with the seed sprinkle.

If you’re not planning to eat all the carrots/onions/dates on the day of making it, store them separately from the pesto and seed sprinkle in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Finished carrot and date dish on a brown plate.

More vegetable side dishes for the holidays

If you love this fresh, flavor-packed dish, please be sure to leave a rating and review below! It’s always much appreciated :) And tag me on Instagram – I love hearing your feedback.

Roasted Carrots and Dates with Pistachio Pesto

5 from 24 votes
These Roasted Carrots and Dates are a gourmet, crowd pleasing side dish but are easy to make and made with affordable ingredients. A colorful, flavor-packed recipe that would make any holiday table sing!
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Middle-Eastern Inspired, New American
Diet Vegan
Serving size: 8 as a side


Carrots and Dates

  • 2 pounds (900g) carrots, peeled
  • 1 medium red onion, sliced into 1-inch wedges
  • 3 tablespoons Simply Nature Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Kosher Salt
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • 3/4 cup (112g) Southern Grove Chopped Dates or Southern Grove Pitted Dates*
  • 1 small handful of flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped (optional garnish)

Pistachio Pesto

  • 1/3 cup (40-45g) Southern Grove Pistachios (unsalted or salted)**
  • 2 cups (25-30g) parsley leaves and tender stems
  • 3 small garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 medium lemon, zested and then juiced
  • A pinch of salt
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) Simply Nature Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1-2 tablespoons water, plus more as needed

Seed Sprinkle

  • 1 tablespoon Simply Nature Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/2 cup (68g) Southern Grove Pepitas***
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper


  • Preheat the oven to 425°F. Once preheated, add two rimmed sheet pans to the oven to heat up for 5 minutes.
  • Prep the carrots. If the carrots are medium-width, bisect lengthwise; if they're fat, cut lengthwise into quarters; if skinny, leave whole. Cut all the carrots into 2-inch pieces on a sharp diagonal. Toss the carrots and onion wedges in 3 tablespoons of olive oil, and season well with salt and pepper.
  • Transfer the carrots and onions to the heated sheet pans and spread out. Roast for 20 to 25 minutes (20 minutes if carrots are skinny), tossing halfway through.
  • Add the chopped dates to the pan(s) and roast for 5 to 8 minutes, or until the carrots are tender and slightly caramelized and onions are soft and browned.
  • Make the pistachio pesto. Add the pistachios to a food processor and blitz until they're in small pieces. Add the parsley, garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, and black pepper to taste. Blend until a paste forms, scraping down the sides as you go along. With the motor running, stream in the extra virgin olive oil to start to form a sauce. Scrape down the sides again, and stream in more oil as needed until you have a smooth yet thick texture. If the pesto is still not smooth enough but you don't want to add more oil, add a spoon of water at a time until the sauce comes together into a creamy, spoonable consistency. Taste for seasonings, adding more salt, lemon, or garlic as needed.
  • Make the seed sprinkle. Heat a small or medium frying pan over medium heat. After a minute or two, add the olive oil and pepitas, red pepper flakes, cumin, paprika, cayenne, and a pinch of salt. Stir almost continuously until golden and seeds are popping, 2 to 2 1/2 minutes. Transfer to a plate and spread out with a spoon, ensuring that the spices evenly coat the pepitas. Allow to cool.
  • Assemble the dish. Spoon some of the pesto on a platter. Add the roasted carrots, onions, and dates on top. Scatter some seed sprinkle on top and garnish with chopped parsley.


* If using the whole dates, measure out ¾ cup and chop the dates into small pieces.
** If using salted pistachios, the pesto needs just a pinch of salt. If using unsalted, it needs several pinches, about ¼ teaspoon kosher salt. I typically buy unshelled pistachios, but you can also buy shelled pistachios at ALDI to shave off a couple minutes!
*** If your pepitas are unsalted, add more than a pinch of salt, about ½ teaspoon.

Calories: 291kcal | Carbohydrates: 27g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 20g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 12g | Trans Fat: 1g | Sodium: 258mg | Potassium: 628mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 16g | Vitamin A: 19176IU | Vitamin C: 21mg | Calcium: 67mg | Iron: 2mg

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5 from 24 votes (8 ratings without comment)

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39 comments on Roasted Carrots and Dates with Pistachio Pesto

  1. planetbethany

    5 stars
    This recipe is phenomenal. The interplay of flavors is sensational. It ends up being less about any individual flavor and more the sum of the parts. A showstopper. All at Easter dinner agreed; would also work for fall/winter holidays. Visually appealing as well. Brava!

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      We appreciate your feedback and support, Bethany. Thank you for leaving a review!

  2. Marta Mendonça

    5 stars
    Hi there,
    Preparing to make this but just wondering, for personal preference, how do you think it would work if I put cilantro instead of the parsley?
    Thank you,

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi Marta, we haven’t tried it ourselves but if you want to try using cilantro pesto you can definitely try! And please let us know how you like it :)

  3. Melinda

    5 stars
    This is a very belated comment, but this dish was my contribution to my family’s Thanksgiving spread last year, and it was delicious. The pistachio pesto especially is addictive–I think my dad’s quote is that he would “eat that on anything.” I will definitely be making this again.

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Your positive feedback is the best reward for our hard work. Thank you, Melinda!

  4. Sonia Clark

    We have a gathering tomorrow and I may try with parsnips…due to the need to eliminate carrots from our diet right now. Thoughts?

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi Sonia, sorry we are replying a bit too late! Did you try it out yourself?

      We think if you like the flavor of parsnips, then yes, go ahead and use them! They should roast well at the same temperature and around the same time frame.

  5. Kat

    5 stars
    I can’t wait to try this recipe! But we have an onion allergy in the family. Do you think this dish will still be robust without onions? Any recommendations for substitutions?

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi Kat! You can omit the onion and it’ll still be lovely, but fennel would be a great substitute (I love roasted fennel and it pairs great with these flavors).

      1. Kat

        5 stars
        Thanks for the reply. I omitted the onions and it was still delicious! I served it for Thanksgiving dinner and was asked to make it again for Christmas dinner!

        1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

          Lovely to hear, Kat! Thanks for sharing :)

  6. Sara Graham

    5 stars
    I made this and while I was worried that the pesto was a bit too tart for my family, it paired beautifully with the carrots and was a huge hit. Thanks for creating a dish with such surprising flavours.

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi Sara, it’s great to hear you had success with the recipe and it was a hit with the whole family. Thanks for the review! :)

  7. Michele Stone

    5 stars
    What a beautiful and flavour packed dish! The sweetness of the carrots, onions and dates are enhanced by the slightly spicy seed sprinkle. Love the colours and textures in this dish. I served at room temperature but I bet it would be nice warm as well. A perfect side for any dinner!

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      We’re delighted you enjoyed the recipe, Michele! Thanks for the awesome review!

  8. Natalya

    5 stars
    Wowsers. This is one of the best recipes I’ve ever made. My mom even said that you can’t find anything that good at a restaurant.

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Ahh, yay! We love having Mom’s approval! Thank you so much for sharing this, Natalya :)

  9. Amy

    5 stars
    Really flavorful! I don’t normally like carrots that much, but this recipe is great.

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Awesome, Amy. Thanks for your comment and for taking the time to review!

  10. Melisa

    5 stars
    So tasty! And very clear and easy to follow instructions. Will be making this again.

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Melisa, So glad to hear you loved this recipe!

  11. Geri

    5 stars
    Yummy! This was absolutely delicious! Loved the mix of taste and textures. I ate the leftovers cold straight from the refrigerator and still delicious.

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Awesome, Geri. Thanks for your comment and for taking the time to review!

  12. Emily

    5 stars
    These Roasted Carrots and Dates with Pistachio Pesto are very flavorful and colorful! We really enjoyed the combination of flavors which work together so harmoniously!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Awesome, Emily. Thanks for your comment and for taking the time to review!

  13. Colleen

    5 stars
    Made this last night and it was delicious! I added about a cup of chickpeas in when I added the dates to roast, but otherwise followed the recipe exactly. We ate this as a main over rice. The only other adjustment I’ll make next time will be to add another onion because we love them over here :)

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Tasty, Colleen! Thanks for sharing :)

  14. Gail Nalven

    5 stars
    I made the pesto and veggies. Then I put it on pasta. YUMMO!

    Although I used too much garlic in the pesto, if there is such a thing. We require massive mouthwash tonight.

    Thanks for another good one!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      So delicious, Gail! Thank you for trying the recipe!

  15. Muoi

    5 stars
    Yum yum yum! Can’t believe my husband and I finished the meal in one sitting and ate a pound of carrots each. It’s so so good! We plan on making it again (like tomorrow). I think we are going to turn orange, but whatever. Haha! Thanks Nisha for your delicious recipes!!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thanks for the lovely feedback, Muoi! Thrilled to hear you and your husband loved the recipe!

  16. Amanda

    5 stars
    Any chance you might make a video of this, Nisha? I’d love to watch you make it. I must say, that zingy green pesto looks amazing against the carrots and red onions!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi Amanda, likely not. Nisha is writing a cookbook at the moment and still trying to push out new blog recipes simultaneously. Sorry about that!

  17. Yasmin Dil-Afruz

    Can you please include calories for your recipes?

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi Yasmin, we don’t include nutrition facts on our recipes for a few reasons. If you’d like to read more as to why, you can do so at this link:

      Many of our readers use apps like MyFitnessPal to calculate nutrition facts for their own purposes. Hope that helped!

  18. Anne-Marie

    Can you make this recipe ahead and refrigerate?

    1. Tessa A.

      Anne-Marie… It appears you did what I usually do, which is you jumped right to the recipe and didn’t read the narrative that comes before the recipe. Your question seems to be answered in the FAQ section. Peace to you and have happy holidays.

    2. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi Anne-Marie! You can definitely make this recipe ahead of time, just make sure to store the carrots/onions/dates separate from the pesto and also separate from the seed mixture. Everything needs to be refrigerated except the seed mixture, which can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container. The carrot/onion/date mixture is best reheated in an oven to help them get crispy again. Enjoy!

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