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I like to refer to this as “the roasted carrot salad” even though carrots are not, by any means, the main ingredient.  But they are my favorite ingredient, and I’m totally smitten with them.  The deal is this…I love the idea of carrots, but I’ve never really been a big carrot eater.  Raw carrots, sure.  Pickled carrots, heck ya.  But cooked carrots, plain, in just butter.  Ehh, not so much.  Then I happened upon this fun little method and I fell in love.  Shall I say it again?  Love, I tell you.  It all started with Mister Jamie (Oliver, that is).  I know, I know, that’s two Jamie inspired dinners back to back, but what can I say?  (I may have fallen in love with him too…)  Eh hem.  Back to the carrots.

Versatile Dinner Salad

So I took those bee-u-tiful carrots that I pulled from the garden, peeled them, and cut them into halves and quarters, lengthwise.  Threw them in a shallow sauce pan, and barely covered them with salted water.  Brought the water to a simmer, and cooked them at a gentle simmer until they were just done, with a little tooth left.  Meanwhile, I had prepared a high acid vinaigrette using equal parts vinegar (sherry and red wine) and extra-virgin olive oil.  Into the vinaigrette, I threw a small pinch of crushed cumin, a small pinch of crushed caraway, a bit of chili flake, and a few leaves of chopped mint.  (Of course when I say “pinch”, I’m referring to my own little hands, so you crazy big-handed folk may want to scale back a bit!)

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There’s that vinaigrette just longing for those hot, simmered carrots to bathe in it.  Let the hot carrots hang out in the vinaigrette for about 10 minutes so they really soak up the flavor.  Then I pulled the carrots out of the vinaigrette, threw them into a pan, and put them under the broiler until they were slightly charred and roasty-looking.

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When they were done, I just pulled ’em out of the oven and let them cool while I put the rest of the salad together.

P5180028I used “little gem” lettuces, which is an heirloom cross of romaine and butter lettuce, but don’t think of this “salad” as being mostly lettuce.  All the other stuff played principle roles.  I threw in a little sliced spring onion that I macerated in some of that carrot vinaigrette while the carrots were roasting in the oven.  Avocado is a must in this salad if you ask me, and then I tossed in some rice.  Oh,…and those lovely beets.  I flaked in some tuna, right out of the can, and tossed it all with a little more olive oil.  You may find that you need more vinaigrette, depending upon how much you made in the first place…taste it and decide.  And you’ll likely need a pinch of salt too.

P5180035You know when you dig in to dinner sometimes, and you can’t even stop to talk about how good it is because you just keep stuffing it in?  Yup, that’s what happened.

So the reason that this salad is so great, is that it’s built using categories.  The lettuce/ greens, the starch, the protein…

I use whatever lettuce I can find at the farmer’s market.  Arugula, frisee, chicories…

We often use left-over shredded chicken as our protein, but tuna or even hard-cooked eggs, sliced into wedges are great too.

And for the starch, you can really go crazy.

  • Beans
  • Rice (red, white black, brown, wild)…so many possibilities
  • lentils (a true favorite)
  • staled bread croutons, tossed in oil and toasted in the oven ’til golden
  • left-over potatoes, cut into chunks and tossed in
  • farro, quinoa or other grains

And as I said before, we always use avocado.  Seriously.  It’s a must.

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