Roasted Carrot, Spinach and Feta Salad
Carrot-Cucumber Acar with Fried Garlic
Carrots belong to a category of vegetables that historically had second-class status: root crops. They store well, so they’ll get you through the winter. But they’ll leaving you pining for the finer fare that will arrive with spring. Or so the conventional wisdom went.
Georgeanne Brennan set out to change that lowly view of root crops in her book, Down to Earth: Great Recipes for Root Vegetables. “Considered unglamorous, and long associated with poverty and peasantry, roots in fact compose a tremendously versatile and richly flavored group,” she declared.
The first recipe here is from her book. That, and the next two recipes present one of the most ordinary of roots – carrots – in unusual ways. The last recipe on the list is a simple classic Italian treatment of carrots.
Grated Carrot and Date Salad with Gorgonzola Dressing [top]
3 or 4 carrots, about ½ pound in all
4 dried dates, pitted
3 tbs firmly packed crumbled Gorgonzola or other blue cheese
¼ cup olive oil
2 tbs Champagne vinegar or white wine vinegar
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
young salad greens for garnish
1. Using a vegetable peeler or paring knife, peel the carrots. Grate them on the large holes of a hand-held grater to make 1 cup. Set aside. Chop the dates into pieces about the size of corn kernels and set them aside as well.
2. In a bowl, combine the cheese, olive oil, vinegar, and pepper, mashing and whisking the cheese to make a thick dressing. Add the carrots and the dates to the dressing and turn them until they are well coated.
3. Transfer to a serving bowl or to individual salad plates, garnish with greens and serve at once.
Source: Adapted from Down to Earth: Great Recipes for Root Vegetables, by Georgeanne Brennan
Carrot-Cucumber Acar with Fried Garlic[top]
¼ cup virgin olive oil
10 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 T minced fresh ginger
1 tsp each ground coriander, ground cumin, ground white pepper, ground nutmeg, and curry powder
1 cup white vinegar
½ cup brown sugar
1 cup small-diced carrots
2 smallish unpeeled cucumbers, cut in half lengthwise, then in thin disks
1 red bell pepper, very thinly sliced
salt to taste
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
Saute the garlic in olive oil over medium heat, stirring frequently for 6 to 7 minutes, until garlic turns light brown. Add the ginger and spices and cook for 2 more minutes, stirring to prevent burning.
Add vinegar and sugar and cook 3 more minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the carrots, cucumber, and bell pepper slices, remove from the heat, and stir well.
Season with salt to taste, then add the cilantro. Allow to come to room temperature, then refrigerate. This acar will keep, covered and refrigerated, 4 to 5 days.
Source: Salsas, Sambals, Chutneys & Chowchows, by Chris Schlesinger and John Willoughby
Roasted Carrot, Spinach and Feta Salad[top]
1 lb. carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
1 red onion, cut into wedges
1 red pepper, deseeded and cut into wedges
4 tbsp olive oil
2 whole cloves garlic
3 tbsp pumpkin seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
juice half a lemon
1 tsp honey
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4-pound bag baby spinach leaves
4 oz feta cheese crumbled
2 tbsp chopped fresh mint leaves
1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Place the carrots, onion, pepper and half the oil in a large roasting pan. Toss together until everything is coated in oil and roast for 15 minutes.
2. Stir in the seeds and garlic and roast for 10 more minutes until the carrots are just tender. Remove the vegetables from the oven and remove the garlic cloves.
3. On a chopping board, slip the garlic from the papery skin and using the blade of a knife, mash into a smooth paste. Put the garlic paste in a small bowl with the remaining oil, lemon juice and honey and whisk together with a fork. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
4. Empty the spinach leaves into a large serving bowl, then add the roasted vegetables, feta cheese, chopped mint and pour over the dressing. Toss lightly together until mixed.
“I know of no other preparation in the Italian repertory, or in other cuisines for that matter, more successful than this one in freeing the rich flavor that is locked inside the carrot,” writes Marcella Hazan, in Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking. Endorsements don’t often come more unequivocal than that. The recipe is simple enough, requiring little more than carrots, a small quantity of water and patience.
Braised Carrots [top]
1½ pounds carrots
¼ tsp sugar
4 tbs butter
3 tbs freshly grated parmesan cheese
1. Peel the carrots, wash them in cold water, and slice them into 3/8 inch disks. The thin tapered ends can be cut thicker. Choose a saute pan that can contain the carrot rounds spread in a single snug layer, without overlapping. Put in the carrots and butter, and enough water to come ¼ inch up the sides. If you do not have a single pan large enough, use two smaller ones, dividing the carrots and butter equally between them. Turn on the heat to medium. Do not cover the pan.
2. Cook until the water has evaporated, then add salt and the ¼ teaspoon of sugar. Continue cooking, adding from 2 to 3 tablespoons water as needed. Your objective is to end up with well-browned, wrinkled carrot disks, concentrated in flavor and texture. It will take between 1 and 1½ hours, during which time you much watch them, even while you do other things in the kitchen. Stop adding water when they begin to reach the wrinkled, browned stage, because there must be no liquid left at the end. In 30 minutes or a little more, the carrots will become so reduced in bulk that, if you have been using two pans, you will be able to combine them in a single pan.
3. When done – they should be very tender – add the grated Parmesan, turn the carrots over completely once or twice, transfer them to a warm platter, and serve at once.