In my growing up years carrots, potatoes, and onions were the few vegetables available year round in their fresh state. By “fresh”, I mean they did not come in a can. Who knows where they had come from or how long they had been around before my mother bagged them and brought them home. Those were our vegetables. Ugh! What a memory.
Today, my 95 year-old dad still insists that he eats lots of vegetables just because he has a daily dose of mashed potatoes.
So…carrots? Given the emotional baggage I’ve had regarding this vegetable, you’d better do something stunning with it to get my attention.
Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi have done just that in their cookbook, Jerusalem, available from our Amazon partner here. Enjoying carrots with plenty of spice never crossed my radar until perusing this book. The sweet of the carrot and the heat of the spice turns out to be the perfect marriage.
I’ve made the salad several times now, adapting it to suit the season and my whims. It’s always a winner!
With the first time, I followed the recipe and the cooking prep instructions. (That’s rare for me!) What I learned from that experience is to cook the carrots whole and slice them after they are cool. The cooked carrot slices more readily hold their shape and sharp edges. This makes the salad look much fresher and the ingredients more dynamic. You do eat with your eyes, don’t you?
Spicy Carrot Salad Ingredients
1 1/2 pounds peeled carrots (Carrots should be about the same width from stem to stern for even cooking. What I did was use extra carrots and then cut off the slim ends to use in another dish.)
2 tablespoons coconut oil or cooking oil of your choice
1 large onion, minced (about 2 cups)
1/2 teaspoon caraway seed
1/2 teaspoon cumin seed
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
2 cups torn arugula leaves
Spicy Carrot Salad Steps
Bring a pot of water to a boil. The pot needs to be large enough for the carrots to lay across the bottom to ensure more even cooking.
Arrange the carrots in the pot over medium heat and cover with a lid.
Start checking the carrots for doneness at about the 20-minute point. The carrots should maintain enough firmness to hold their shape through the tossing to come later. As soon as the carrots are done, remove them to a colander and run cold water over them to stop the cooking action. Set the carrots aside to cool enough to handle.
While the carrots cook, sauté the onion in the coconut oil until the onion is translucent and just beginning to brown.
While the onion sautés, toast the cumin and caraway seeds in a dry skillet until they become fragrant, usually a moment or two is adequate – it depends on the make-up of your skillet.
Grind the seeds in a spice grinder and add the powder to the sautéed onion along with the cayenne pepper.
When the carrots are cool enough to handle, slice them into bite-sized rounds and place in a bowl large enough to do some tossing.
Place the onion mixture on top of the carrots.
Drizzle on the olive oil and lemon juice and toss gently until all the carrots pieces are fully coated.
Taste for salt and pepper.
Make any adjustments to suit your own taste. You may want more olive oil or more cayenne pepper. This is YOUR salad. Please your own taste buds.
Set the bowl aside for about an hour for the flavors to blend.
Just before serving, add the arugula leaves. This way they stay bright green.
We have kept this salad for up to a week in the refrigerator and it was still delicious. Feel free to warm it up and use it a a vegetable side.