Friday, June 2, 2017

Carrot Salad with Harissa, Feta and Mint

On Sunday, by some miracle I ended up awake several hours before the rest of my friends and tried to write. I wanted to post about this watercress and sorrel sauce I made last week, but somehow ended up rambling about the smell of the ocean and the commuter train between Providence and Boston. I'm still convinced there's a way to make it work- something about spring, and foliage, and the distinct ungreen-ness of California and Utah - but for now I'm calling uncle. Instead I'm going to write about salad.

Me in Rhode Island, smelling the ocean like a weirdo totally normal person

See that transition? Excellent transition.

As a longtime (mostly) vegetarian, my feelings about salad run deep. The short version is that I think salad get short shrift because people are lazy about it- rather than planning what flavors and textures go together (like, you know, everything else we cook), people just empty their crisper drawers and call it a day. House salad = all the vegetables in the kitchen, thrown in a bowl with absolutely no restraint and drenched with some salad dressing from a bottle.

When I'm asked to bring salad to a dinner party (this happens a lot! really!) I often feel a need to prove this point. I end up with a strange competitive drive to bring the most delicious thing on the table, even though everybody else gets to play with bacon and butter. This is especially true here, where my vegetarianism is somehow exotic again, just like it was to my New England family over a decade ago. "Eat less meat, an environmental principle" hasn't really gone mainstream in Utah yet. Our written laws still include a resolution denying anthropogenic climate change, which today feels like an especially painful marker of how far we have to go.

Where was I? Right. Defending salad in a politically horrifying world.

The result of all this is that I have a bunch of impressive, take-me-seriously-as-cuisine salads that I eat regularly but also break out whenever I'm assigned salad duty. This one is from Smitten Kitchen, and is as such completely perfect. I made it for a game night a couple weeks back, and was surprised by the subdued reaction- like I said, it's a winner- but vindicated when it was subsequently specifically requested for the same friend's birthday party. Salad: 1 , Utah; 0.

Carrot Salad with Harissa, Feta and Mint
From utterly peerless Smitten Kitchen

3/4 lbs carrots, peeled and grated
2 Tbsp chopped fresh mint
2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
4 oz feta, crumbled (or more to taste! I always love more feta)
4 Tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, pressed
1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds or half as much ground*
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon paprika
3/4 teaspoon harissa
1/2 teaspoon sugar
3 Tbsp lemon juice

*note: I can't find ground caraway, so I use a mortar and pestle on whole seeds. 

Heat olive oil, garlic, caraway, cumin, paprika, harissa and sugar in a small pan over medium heat for a couple minutes (you don't want the garlic to brown). Take the pan off the heat and stir in lemon juice and a good pinch of salt. Combine with carrots and herbs, then leave to marinate for around an hour (this makes a difference!). Add the feta and then serve.

1 comment:

  1. I love this recipe and want you to make it pretty much every time you come over. Every. Time.