CARROT AND AVOCADO SALAD WITH WARM SPICES AND PICKLED RED ONION
I had my folks in town for a brief weekend visit earlier this summer. And as per usual, I waited until the very last minute to tidy up the house, which invariably meant that when it came to having a welcoming supper ready and waiting for them, I was majorly waylaid. The entree I decided to prepare was as simple as clams cooked on the grill (if you’ve never tried this, by god what are you waiting for?) but to accompany it I didn’t have a lot lying around. A bunch of rainbow carrots, a red onion, and two (so perfect they were about to rot) avocados. Always up for a challenge, I got to work on ‘making it work’ ala André from season 2 of Project Runway. Here’s how it shook out:
1 bunch of carrots (even sad ones that have been in your crisper since last April can shine with this recipe) sliced on the diagonal for prettier, evenly sized pieces
4 cloves of garlic
1 tbs toasted coriander, finely ground
1tbs fennel seed, finely ground
2 tsp smoked paprika, aka pimento
1 red onion
1/2 cup of apple cider vinegar
1 tbs sea salt
1 lime (make sure its a juicy one!)
Preheat your oven to 400.
Lay the carrots out on a large baking sheet, and liberally drizzle with olive oil. Microplane the cloves of garlic over them, sprinkle with the spices, and toss to coat. Bake for 20/25 minutes or so, checking on them periodically and giving them a stir so they cook evenly. You are looking for them to get softer but not dry out (you want to be able to easily pierce them with a fork). You are trying to lure the sweetness out of them ultimately. They will just be starting to look caramelized (nowhere near burnt) when they are done. Remove from the oven and set aside.
While carrots are baking, peel and cut your onion into 1/4 inch slices—not to be OCD but there is a way to do this that is heaps better than the other way. Cut the onion in half from root to tip, and then across vertically with root facing you—horizontal cuts make it look like sad Greek salad lunch lady land. Place the onions in a small saucepan with about a cup of water and 1/4 cup vinegar (if you’re onion was huge, add more water and vinegar) You want the onion to be covered but not drowning in liquid. Stir in your salt and slowly bring to a steady boil. Let simmer for about 4 minutes and then turn off the heat. The onions should be way less overpowering body odor and more subdued/simultaneously crisp, sour and sweet.
Cut the avocados into half inch thick slices about an inch and a half long. Zest your lime and set zest aside. Squeeze the lime over the avocado slices and drizzle with olive oil and sea salt. Add the carrots and red onion and gently mix. The avocado is delicate so it will start to mush a bit. This doesn’t offend me because it ensures that the heavenly spices from the carrots coat it but if you want it to be picture perfect add the avocado to the top in a fancy fan like a fancy hotel would make a fancy cob salad. Top with the lime zest.