Thursday, August 19, 2010

Attack of the Giant Carrots!

As I was strolling along at the greenmarket, scoping out my veggie picks for the week, some enormous carrots caught my eye.  I mean honestly, these things could have given bugs bunny a run for his money.  They were huge!  I couldn’t’ resist the urge to pick them up and revel at the size of them.  I bought them for their sheer comical value. My roommate actually took the biggest one and gave it to her boss as a birthday joke!

I usually don’t cook carrots until the weather cools down.  I love warm savory carrots with cinnamon or as a staple in soups.  However, I had these huge carrots and I needed a delicious summer dish to use them in.  So, I called my sister and sent her on a mission.  My sister is one of the main reasons why I love food and cooking. She watches the food network 24 hours a day and when she was 8, she insisted on that our new puppy be named after her favorite chef.   To say that a passion for food runs in the family is an understatement.

My only request for her dish was that it be a summer salad and of course, healthy.  Carrots are great year round and are very inexpensive.  Therefore, I also wanted a dish where the carrots were the main ingredient.  I wanted these big carrots to stand on their own….because they literally probably could have.

Instead of a heavy coleslaw or fattening potato salad, tote this light, yummy salad to your end of summer parties!!!

What makes this bite better?
Carrots are a great source of beta-carotene, which is needed by the body to make Vitamin A.  No beta-carotene, no Vitamin A. Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin that plays a critical role in healthy vision! Your eyes will thank you.  In addition to other important roles in the body, both Vitamin A and Beta-carotene may help prevent cancer. Good stuff! 

Julie’s Summer Carrot Salad with Golden Raisins
Double or Triple recipe as needed
Serving Size: 2 cups
Time: About 25 minutes

2 cups of freshly grated summer carrots
1 Tbsp. Lemon Juice (ideally from a fresh lemon)
1 tsp. freshly grated ginger (if you only have dried use about 1/3 tsp. )
1 Tbsp. honey
1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsp. Spicy Brown mustard (Dijon will work also)
2 Tbsp. olive oil
½ cup of golden raisins
1/4 of a small yellow onion , diced
Parsley, cleaned and chopped, about 1 Tbsp., more to taste
Salt to taste

Peel and rinse the carrots.  Grate them to produce a coleslaw-like texture.  Add lemon juice, ginger, onion and set aside.  To prepare the dressing, whisk together honey, apple cider vinegar, spicy brown mustard and olive oil.  Toss into carrots and mix well.  Add the golden raisins and the parsley and toss again to blend the ingredients thoroughly.   Salt to taste.  Allow the salad to marinate, so the flavors can blend for at least 10 minutes before serving.  Before serving, toss again to remix the salad and sprinkle extra fresh parsley and raisins on top. 

Whenever you do not have fresh herbs or spices on hand (in this recipe, the ginger) you can generally substitute the dried version with about 1/3 of the amount.  The fresh herbs to dried herb ratio is around 3:1 because the fresh version holds more water and the flavor of the dried herb is more condensed.   However, dried herbs lose their flavor fast and are generally good for only about 6 months.  If you have had them longer then you might need to use more to obtain the level of flavor you are looking for.  Fresh is always better!  They have a more pure flavor and better nutrient retention!

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