Sunburst Carrot Salad

Sunburst Carrot Salad Recipe

What you see up above is a vibrant, flavorful, shaved carrot salad. I intended to serve it under thick slabs of cumin-spiked tofu. Sounds simple enough, right? It actually took a few tries on my part to get the carrot salad right. My failures were by no means spectacular, but they are notable. This is a long-winded way of saying that after spending exponentially more time on the carrot portion of the recipe (the tofu was a breeze), I realized the carrot salad warranted it's own write-up. The tofu recipe will follow on Monday.

As I worked toward the ideal carrot salad, I tried a bunch of things that didn't work very well - culinary dead ends. Each time I'd back up, rethink my approach, and try something different. For example, I thought it might make sense to barely blanch the the carrot ribbons in a pot of boiling salted water, just long enough to take the raw edge off. Not the best idea. The carrots ended up limp and lifeless, and they all stuck together. Thinking that I might be able to salvage the attempt, I gave them a spin in the salad spinner - didn't help. Swinging the pendulum in the opposite direction I tried a raw approach - uncooked carrots softened up by the acid in the citrus juice (I tried both lemon and lime juices). Not quite what I was after either. In the end I preferred the melding of flavors that came from zapping the carrot ribbons in a hot skillet w/ a bit of salt and olive oil. I finished them off with lemon zest, finely chopped serrano chiles, a quick squeeze of lemon juice, and lots of cilantro.

Carrot Salad Recipe

I sidelined my favorite deep magenta and red carrots in this carrot salad. They stain everything around them. You could do a version just using the more saturated carrots and be fine. I also realize they are harder to come by for many people, so I went for more forgiving hues of spring carrots.

Sunburst Carrot Salad Recipe

Generally speaking, I don't buy the huge woody-textured carrots you find in many produce departments. I seek out bunches of seasonal carrots this time of year from various farmers, farmers markets, etc.

2 bunches carrots, preferably spring carrots
extra virgin olive oil
fine grain sea salt
1 green chile (serrano), deveined and minced
1 lemon, zest and juice
1 cup cilantro, chopped
1 cup green pumpkin seeds (pepitas), toasted

Start by washing the carrots. Use a vegetable peeler to shave each carrot into wide ribbons. If your carrots have beat up, dirty skins, peel them first before making ribbons.

Heat a big splash of olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add a big pinch of salt and stir in the carrot ribbons. Saute for just 20 seconds or so - barely long enough to take the raw edge and a bit of crunch off the carrots. Quickly stir in the chiles and lemon zest. Remove from heat and stir in the cilantro, about one tablespoon of lemon juice, and then most of the pepitas. Taste. Add more salt and/or lemon juice if needed. Garnish with remaining pepitas.

Serves 4 to 6.

If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!

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Comments

When I first saw the picture, I actually thought this was going to be a recipe using wide egg noodles! How happily surprised was I that they were actually carrot ribbons! Carrots and cilantro is one of my all-time favorite combinations, and I can't wait until the farmer's market this weekend to pick up some fresh carrots! Thanks Heidi!

It looks so refreshing...simple and healthy. Thanks for your recipes.

Can you use the green tops of fresh carrots?

Paula

This is one of the prettiest salads I've ever seen! The salad looks great on its own, but I think it'd be really perfect with something cumin-y. Can't wait for the Monday recipe :)

Wow, this looks delicious. I'm definitely a salad person, and love vegetables, so finding something like this tickles my healthy food bone. :) I'll have to give this a try once the weather warms up a bit!

Maya

This reciept looks great and I am sure it will taste great but Im a bit worried about 'zapping the carrot ribbons in a hot skillet w/ a bit of salt and olive oil' isn't that the same as frying the carrots? Frying is something I try to avoid, when I do fry it would be in olive oil but some people say olive oil loses its healthful properties when it is heated, does anyone know if this is true?

Hilary Easton

That looks great. The colors are amazing. I'm so glad that you gave us the things you did wrong as well as what worked! I may have been tempted to blanch them as well!

So pretty! That's the most darling looking dish that I've seen in a long time. And because our "spring" today just means constant drizzle, I can't wait to make it.

Just incredible looking. You make me want to give up eating meat. I too, did not know I had a choice in carrots. Can't wait till I find some some and try them out. Thanks for making my day brighter.

I have everything for this (including the tofu!) except the carrots--going to experiment with my idea of cumin-spiked tofu and see how it compares to your Monday post. Surely it won't be as good but it's fun to challenge myself! Cheers Heidi :-)

Court

I do something quite similar rather often - and it can only be recommended! The sweetness of the carrots need a little acidic balance of either vinegar or lemon juice/zest. And the combo with pumpkin seeds is a killer - something just right about it! Also good with orange wedges, when in season, and a touch of garlic.

My partner's mom salts her carrots (like you salt eggplant), then drains them and adds her flavourings. Yum.

Teddy, I'm certain a spicy mandolin tune would definitely liven up this dish. May I suggest a pairing of "Blackberry Blossom" with this fine recipe?

Just giving the carrots a quick blast of heat in the pan is a great idea. Boiled carrot is just not what you're after for a salad, but then again munching through a whole bowlful of completely raw carrots can be hard work. Nigella Lawson's carrot salad recipe with peanuts (I think it's called the rainbow room carrot salad) is worth seeking out too as another summery carrot salad

Since all your recipes, even the simplest of them are so tasty (spinach pasta, bulgar wheat pilaf), i gotta try this one too. I find it easier to make the non dessert recipes since the ingredients are more readily available here. for the sweet stuff which i'd love to try, i badly need a subsititute for whole wheat pastry flour. but then i hope substitution doesn't miss the point of the dessert all together.

pRiyA

This looks amazing! I'm going to the store to buy a paella pan tomorrow, and I'm wondering if you have a favorite paella recipe. I'd love something tried and true to break in my new pan!

Stephanie

Just curious, do you have a mandolin? this makes me ant to get one, I noticed the you used a veggie peeler but who couldn't use another toy? think this would work with a mandolin?? teddy

The salad looks so light and refreshing, very delicate. I like the use of crunchy pepitas and the bright flavor of cilantro. I'm sure this will make for a wonderful lunch on a hot summer day!

it really looks delicious. pumpkin seeds are such a good addition :)

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