Saturday, September 19, 2009

Wonky Carrot Salad

Of course, this salad can be made with any carrots - wonky or not. But I get a little thrill out of these vegetables that don't fit the mold.

So many American children grow up eating those finger-like "baby carrots" that are not baby carrots at all but tasteless, peeled and uniformly cut full-grown carrots. Who could actually enjoy eating that? No wonder parents have to add puddles of Ranch dressing just to get kids to eat them!

A simple, raw salad seems like the best way to highlight the character of these nobly wonky carrots, giving back a little dignity to a vegetable I fear may be going out of style.

2lbs carrots
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
coarse sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
juice of 1 lemon
1 heaping tablespoon whole coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon whole cumin seeds

Wash the carrots well and dry them. Use a vegetable peeler to cut away the dark brown and green part at the top and to peel off any parts of the skin that are "hairy" or that just won't wash clean.  It's really not necessary to peel all of the carrots entirely though, I promise.  The skin actually adds a nice earthy taste, I think.

Fit your food processor with the grating attachment.  Using the little pusher thing, feed the carrots into the spout to grate them all.  (This is the part where straight carrots may have been preferable to these wonky beasts).   Place the shredded carrots in a very large bowl.

Pour the olive oil and lemon juice over the carrots.  (I use a tea strainer to keep any of those dreadfully slimy lemon seeds from slipping in).  Generously sprinkle with sea salt and add a few turns of the pepper mill.  Place the spices into the pepper mill and grind them over the carrots.  It might take a little while to grind through all of that coriander and cumin, but it's worth it!  Trust me, you don't want to go with the pre-ground stuff.

I like to use my (clean) hands to really mix all the ingredients together thoroughly.  Now's the time to taste: add more salt, oil, lemon juice, and/or spices if you think it needs it.  My mother-in-law likes to add minced raw garlic to her carrot salad; it's delicious but not quite worth having bad breath for two days afterwards, in my opinion.  I'll let you be the judge of that!

This salad gets really good after marinating for a few hours/days in the fridge in a covered dish, although it needs to be eaten in the space of a week.  Terence and I rarely have trouble going through about 2 lbs per week, but of course, you can always halve the quantities.

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