Last week I was asked to supply some healthy food for the opening party of a fabulous new barre and group-cycling studio near me, The Dailey Method, Willow Glen. I wanted a salad that would hang around well and that would suit their healthy clientele’s dietary needs. Oh and because the studio’s brand colours are orange and green, I thought of this straight away.
This salad is also known as see in the dark salad due to the high volume of beta-carotene rich carrots in this. The avocado provides a good dose of good fats making this salad a great main or side dish. I often add some crumbled Feta and serve it with a toasted pita or lavash bread for a lovely vegetarian meal. You can also serve it with paprika sprinkled, grilled chicken or fish.
The humus-esque dressing is a new discovery for me and I love how it balances out the sweetness of the carrot and the creaminess of the avocado. It is a great one to make in bulk and keep in the fridge. I love it tossed through quinoa or rice or as a dip. It will go thicker after being in the fridge or when you first shake it, so add a little water and whisk or shake to thin it.
This salad came about because I keep seeing chefs use a single ingredient in different ways. Beets, brussel sprouts seem to keep getting this treatment. I decided to use the humble but delicious carrot as I am a roasted carrot obsessive. By using roasted, raw and pickled carrots together you get a great balance of flavour and texture. I love how the texture of the soft, roasted carrot matches the texture of the avocado.
My speedy pickling method was a bit of a revelation, before I tried this I always thought pickling was something owned by time rich Williamsburg bearded hipsters or grannies. Who knew it could easily be done in 30 minutes. Now I add picked veggies (red cabbage, radishes, cucumber) to all sorts of dishes and always have a few bowls in the fridge where they’ll sit happily in their pickling liquid for ages – no need to put them in a jar, but you can if you want.
Salads like this need to be served on a big flat platter to ensure everyone gets the full impact and gets to get the right combination of elements. Check out my salad rules post for more salad ideas and tips.
10-12 medium sized organic carrots, scrubbed but not peeled
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 ripe avocados, sliced or cut into chunks
2 handfuls arugula [rocket]
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
1 cup water plus half a cup white wine or apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon each of sea salt and black pepper
optional – a teaspoon of fennel or coriander seeds, left whole
4 tablespoons sherry or red wine vinegar
8 tablespoons good olive oil (I like Sur La Table’s ‘Marca Verde il Classico’)
1 tablespoon tahini (sesame seed paste)
You can pick up all the equipment and the more unusual ingredients I use through my shop.
1. Preheat the oven to 400F/200C
2. Set a small pan with the pickling liquid ingredients in, and a lid on, over a high heat
3. Chop 6 of the carrots into 1 inch elongated rings on the diagonal (see photo of the roasted carrots above), toss with 1 tablespoon of oil and lay on a lined roasting sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and put in the oven for 20-30 minutes, turning once half way through
4. To make the pickled carrots, slice 2 of the carrots as thinly as you can. I use my box grater slicer to get thin coins. Then put them in a small bowl
5. When the picking liquid starts bubbling, take it off the heat and pour it over the bowl of thinly sliced carrots. Cover the bowl and set aside for 30 minutes or as long as you want
6. While the carrots pickle and the other carrots roast, start making your dressing. Mix all the ingredients in a small bowl and whisk together (or shake in a jam jar). Taste and adjust. If it thickens up, add a little water.
7. When the roasted carrots are soft and starting to go brown and sticky, take them out of the oven and toss them through half of the dressing so that they absorb the flavor
8. Toast your sesame seeds over a medium heat for 2-3 minutes, until they smell toasty. Don’t do this when you are distracted as they will easily burn
9. Start to assemble your salad by putting the arugula [rocket] in the bottom of your platter, then scatter on the dressing-soaked roasted carrots on top, followed by salt and pepper, the avocado and the drained, pickled carrots
10. Use a vegetable peeler to peel strings of raw carrot onto the platter
11. Scatter the salad with half of the remaining dressing and the toasted seeds then use your hands or tongs to toss together. Add more dressing, salt and pepper if needed before serving at room temperature (the cold dumbs down flavor and makes salad gloopy).