Saturday, May 29, 2010

Carrot and Coriander Salad

For Mother's Day my sister Mo gave me A Platter of Figs and Other Recipes by David Tanis.

Tanis works for six months out of the year as head chef at Chez Panisse. He spends the rest of the year in Paris, where he hosts a private dining club.

Lucky dog! He's living at least part of my fantasy life.

The book is gorgeous, and immediately I want to try every recipe. They all seem to be my kind of cooking: seasonal, family-style, simple, and stunningly beautiful.

These are the kind of recipes that will impress your friends and family, but won't keep you away from your friends and family for too long. What pleases me is that I already have all the ingredients I need to make at least a couple of them.

I dive into the recipe for "Carrot and Coriander Salad" straightaway. Tanis is correct when he advises you to use a mandoline or a Benriner to julienne your carrots.

Turns out my Benriner is dull, and thus far too dangerous to use. I make a half-recipe and, given my knife skills are not what they ought to be, it takes me almost 30 minutes to julienne one pound of smallish carrots.

(Ssh. Don't tell anyone. I'm embarrassed!)

After the carrots have been tackled, everything else is a cinch.

You add lots of citrus, plus toasted cumin, coriander, garlic and shallots. Combine that with chopped fresh cilantro and a small blast of heat, and you have a bracing Moroccan salad that is actually good for you. (Figured it was time for something like this, after the carbonara and pot roast!)

Tanis garnishes the salad with green olives. I think this is fine, but not strictly necessary. He sprinkles the cilantro on top, and I mixed mine in. I think you can go either way. I do like and will definitely try his suggestion for a spicier version, adding slivered red onions and jalapeño chiles.

David Tanis' halibut with Indian spices and chilled pink borscht coming soon!

Carrot and Coriander Salad

2 pounds carrots, peeled
salt and pepper
1 large shallot, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, smashed to a paste with a little salt
2 teaspoons cumin seeds, toasted and ground
2 teaspoons coriander seeds, toasted and ground (You can toast and grind the spices together.)
red pepper flakes or cayenne (I used red pepper flakes.)
juice of 1 to 2 lemons
olive oil
good green olives, such Picholine or Lucques (not pitted)
1 bunch cilantro

Julienne the carrots into long slivers, put them in a large bowl, sprinkle lightly with salt, and toss. Add the shallot, garlic, cumin, coriander, red pepper flakes, and lemon juice. Toss well, and let soften a bit.

Add olive oil to coat, then adjust the seasoning with lemon juice, salt, black pepper, and red pepper. Cover and set aside at cool room temperature for up to several hours, or refrigerate and then return to room temperature to serve.

Toss the salad again to distribute the seasoning, and heap on a large platter.

Squeeze a little fresh lime juice over, and garish with green olives. Roughly chop some cilantro and scatter it over the salad. Strew sprigs of cilantro and lime wedges around the salad, if you like.

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