Crunchy crudité and dip isn’t the only way to get vegetables into the mix of starters at a get-together. This festive vegetable recipe offers the opposite sensory experience – a soft, savory-sweet, spreadable counterpoint.

The spread recipe below is made with carrots, mushrooms, red bell pepper and shallots, which are all roasted in a light coating of olive oil and a touch of salt, until they’re tender, deeper in flavor and caramelized.

Once cooled, the roasted vegetables are pulsed in a food processor with a brightening splash of vinegar and a little thyme, until the mixture is fairly smooth but still has some flecks of texture.

You wind up with a beautiful, jewel-toned spread that works year-round, whenever you want to offer guests something special to top crackers or bread to start a meal, or to smear on sandwiches and toasts throughout the week. And it’s also especially well suited to be served next to the chopped liver at a Passover Seder, or a spread for matzoh throughout the holiday.

Carrots, mushrooms, red bell pepper and shallots are all roasted in a light coating of olive oil and a touch of salt, until they’re tender, deeper in flavor and caramelized. Photo for The Washington Post by Tom McCorkle


Active time: 20 minutes
Total time: 1 hour
6 to 7 servings (makes about 1 3/4 cups)


• Storage: Refrigerate for up to 4 days.

12 ounces carrots, peeled, trimmed and cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces (larger pieces halved)
4 ounces cremini or white button mushrooms, halved (or quartered, if large)
1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
2 large shallots, peeled and quartered lengthwise
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon fine salt, divided, plus more to taste
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar, plus more to taste
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees.

On a large, rimmed baking sheet, arrange the carrots, mushrooms, peppers and shallots, drizzle with the oil, and season with 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Gently toss to coat. Roast for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender and lightly browned in spots, tossing at about the midway point. Remove from the oven and let cool completely.

Transfer the vegetables to the bowl of a food processor, and add the vinegar, thyme, pepper and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Pulse until the mixture is fairly smooth and spreadable but not entirely homogeneous. Taste and season with additional salt and/or vinegar, if desired. Serve right away or refrigerate until needed. (You might want to add a little more vinegar after refrigeration, as the acidity mellows with storage.)

Serve as a spread with crackers or toast, or as a sandwich spread.

Nutritional information per serving (1/4 cup), based on 7: Calories: 66; Total Fat: 4 g; Saturated Fat: 1 g; Cholesterol: 0 mg; Sodium: 204 mg; Carbohydrates: 7 g; Dietary Fiber: 2 g; Sugar: 4 g; Protein: 1 g

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