Sunday, September 29, 2013

Roasted Carrot and Avocado Salad (a la ABC Kitchen)

I am totally obsessed with this Roasted Carrot and Avocado Salad from ABC Kitchen. In fact, this post should really be entitled “Go Make This NOW!”  I haven’t actually been to ABC Kitchen myself, but if the rest of their food is anything like this brilliant carrot concoction, I want to have lunch there as soon as possible. 

It’s been a while since a dish grabbed my attention so insistently.  Ever since finding this recipe two weeks ago in the New York Times, I’ve made this salad nine times and for five different friends. Everyone flips when they taste it, and I think you will too.

At first glance the roasted carrots, avocado slices and sprouts seemed a slightly incongruous combination, or at least something reminiscent of my ultra-healthy 1970s California childhood.   However, I was intrigued enough to try it immediately, making the whole recipe so that I’d have leftovers for the next day or two. It turns out that the combination of the fragrant roasted carrots with velvety avocado slices is an inspired one, and I’m not ashamed to admit that I ate the entire thing in one sitting.

These are no ordinary roasted carrots. Normally I’d be happy drizzling a bunch of carrots (or almost any vegetable) with a liberal dose of olive oil, salt and pepper before popping them in the oven.  But these carrots go to a whole new level when covered with a garlicky paste, enlivened with cumin and fresh thyme as well as lots of salt, pepper and hot chile flakes. 

As if that heady spice mixture isn’t enough to coax great flavor from the carrots, the real magic comes from placing orange and lemon halves over the carrots as they roast.  This touch of sweetness is tempered by the salty-spice blend, and the roasted citrus juice is then blended with olive oil to dress the salad.

I am in the midst of preparing for a major solo recital, and I desperately need good “brain food” right now.  I've been craving food that will energize me, helping me focus clearly for my marathon practice sessions.  This roasted carrot salad definitely fits that bill, and the luscious slices of avocado feel like a decadent treat.  This recipe entered my life at the perfect time, and I hope you will enjoy it as much as I have.

One Year Ago: Monkey Cake

Adapted slightly from a recipe from ABC Kitchen, published in the New York Times

I have topped this with radish sprouts, as the recipe suggests, but I have also had good results with pea shoots and micro greens.  And while ABC Kitchen adds a bit of crunch to their salad with a sprinkling of pumpkin seeds, I love it with toasted walnuts or pine nuts.

1-1/2 pounds medium-sized carrots, peeled
3 large cloves garlic
1 teaspoon sea salt
¾ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
½ teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 orange, halved
1 lemon, halved
1 avocado, thinly sliced
A handful of radish sprouts, fresh pea shoots, or micro greens
1/3 cup walnuts, lightly toasted and coarsely chopped
Crème fraiche or sour cream, for finishing

Preheat the oven to 400°

Trim the ends of the carrots.  Cut any particularly large carrots in half lengthwise so that the carrots are fairly uniform in size, which will allow them to roast more evenly.  Place them on a large rimmed baking sheet.

Pound the garlic in a mortar with the sea salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, cumin and thyme leaves to make a paste.  (Alternately, chop the garlic very finely with the salt, then combine the paste in a small bowl with the rest of the spices.)  Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the vinegar and stir to combine well.

Spread the spice mixture over the carrots.  Top with the orange and lemon halves, cut-side down.  Roast for 35 to 45 minutes, depending on the size of the carrots, until they are tender and starting to brown.

Using tongs to protect your hands, squeeze the roasted orange and lemon halves into a measuring cup, which should come out to about a ½ cup of juice.  Whisk in the remaining olive oil to make a sauce.

Divide the roasted carrots between four salad plates and drizzle with a spoonful of the citrus sauce.  Arrange the avocado slices around the carrots and top with radish sprouts.  Finish with another drizzle of the sauce, a few dollops of crème fraiche and a sprinkling of toasted walnuts.  Serve immediately.

Serves 4.  (Or if your name is Louise and you’re in recital preparation mode, this may make only one generous serving!)


Cenovia said...

Yes people this recipe rocks!! I've made it four times myself.. you won't be sorry!

louise said...

Thank you, Cenovia! You were my first guinea pig for this recipe, after all. It's rather addictive, as you've discovered for yourself!