Tuesday, September 20, 2011

On Carrot Salad, or "If I Have to Eat Another Carrot Stick You Will Need a Carrot Extraction"

Who doesn't love carrots? Sweet, crunchy, that impossibly cheerful orange color. They add color and soy sauce relief to fried rice and a little something special to green salads. Two raw carrots a day--in the form of lunch-bag carrot sticks, perhaps--counts as a whole serving of vegetables and will make you see in the dark. Or so I've heard. You see, I've never been able to eat two whole raw carrot's worth of sticks. They're just too boring! But they are excellent for you and cheap and great nutrition. So how to make them interesting and more importantly, how to make them into a respectable side dish for dinner (even after choking down a few sticks at lunch)?

Oh yes, the all-purpose salad. Some oil and acid, some contrasting textures, and voila!


Carrot Salad
(Click here for printable recipe)

2 1/2 to 3 cups shredded carrots
2 T olive oil
2 T sherry vinegar
1/4 c shelled, salted pistachios
4 mint leaves, chiffonade, minced, or elsewise choppy chopped

1. Mix.
2. Eat.
3. Gets better with time, so refrigerate for tomorrow.

Now, for the notes. The carrots and pistachios work great together, surprisingly. I think I read it once in the Bon Appetit Vegetables cookbook I picked up at a thrift store. This is why you should read cookbooks like you read fiction. Or Twitter. Somewhere in the depths of your brain, you will push aside your junior high locker combination and replace it with a virtual 3 x 5 card with something useful for a change: "carrots + pistachios = good." Now the mint I happened to have on hand--namely because they sell little $1 bundles at the store now and I can never seem to use a whole $5 bundle (and no, I haven't tried growing it because I can't handle the rejection)--and it seemed a better fit than the basil I also had. (D'oh.) However, the mint's result is earthy, and intriguing.

For me.

Matty, however, was not impressed. So this might be a salad to test with your family on a small-scale first.

The next time I made this salad I replaced the mint with parsley. Which brought forth the same feeling, the same smells, the same mouthfeel as if you had yanked a carrot out of the ground in desperation and crammed it, greens and all, into your mouth. Crunch, crunch, crunch.

("Parsley = not great on everything.")

Lastly, be sure you use the appropriate amounts of vinegar and oil. Resist the urge to just drizzle vinegar over a pile of shredded carrots. This action and that little parsley bit resulted in my exclamation that I had just made the worst salad ever. And for dinner we had only one side dish while the ill-fated carrot salad spent its evening considering eminent demise by garbage disposal.

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