Food & Wine (July 2012)
There are a few reasons we love -- no, adore -- this carrot salad:
First, it's absolutely delicious. The lemon dressing, tart and spiced by harissa (which we wrote about extensively last year), takes carrot salad (which, let's face it, can be a bit blah) and makes it into a side dish worth getting excited about. The raisins are sweet, the feta is salty. The whole package is an amazing combination. An amazing carrot salad -- we honestly didn't know it was possible.
That may be because this is also a recipe by Susan Feniger, a chef we fell for when she was on Top Chef Masters. We've been to the restaurant she owns with Mary Sue Milliken -- Border Grill in Los Angeles -- and had some amazing tacos there, including one that was a quinoa-crusted avocado taco unlike anything we've had before or since. There's a spread featuring party food from Susan in the latest Food & Wine. It's a dreamy L.A. party and worth checking out.
The other nice thing about this carrot salad is how light and refreshing it is. Sure there's richness from the olive oil and feta, but it's mostly veggies. We felt great eating this salad.
And believe us, we need something light. We're just back from a rather decadent week away at the beach, where we ate and drank to our hearts' content. Now that we're back, it's time to start eating like sane people again.
And then, there's this:
That's right. We used carrots from our own garden to make this dish, and we're unapologetically proud of it. Our gardening adventures have had many ups and downs over the last few years (look for an update very soon that includes both ups and downs), but we were extremely pleased to have successfully grown carrots. We literally walked out the back door, pulled some carrots, scrubbed them clean and cut them up. We have never felt so....Martha.
We've included some notes in the recipe about where to find harissa and some other choices to consider when making this dish, but really, you need to make this dish.
This carrot salad is dreamy.
NOTES FROM ZACH AND CLAY OF THE BITTEN WORD
- With four pounds of carrots going into this dish, the recipe makes a lot of salad. If you're making this for only yourself or a handful of people, and don't want to be eating carrot salad for days, you may want to scale down the recipe.
- Harissa may be difficult for some readers to find. Our neighborhood supermarket sometimes has it in the international aisle. If you have a Whole Foods, chances are you'll be able to find some there -- we bought ours there in the refrigerated section. If not Whole Foods, check other specialty markets in your area.
- We used regular old raisins when we made this salad, but next time, we think we'll use golden raisins, or a mix of half and half.
- If you compare our version to that of Food & Wine, you'll see that we treated our carrots differently. Food & Wine has done theirs very thin, while we opted for larger discs using a food processor. How you do your version is totally up to you.
1/4 cup harissa
2/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground pepper
4 pounds carrots, julienned on a mandoline or coarsely shredded in a food processor (about 12 cups)
2 cups raisins
4 cups flat-leaf parsley leaves
1 pound feta, crumbled
In a large bowl, whisk the harissa with the lemon juice. Gradually whisk in the olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
Add the carrots, raisins, parsley and feta to the dressing and toss well. Serve lightly chilled or at room temperature.
The carrot salad can be made without the feta and parsley and refrigerated for up to 6 hours; add the feta and parsley just before serving. The lemon dressing can be refrigerated overnight.