Spring has finally arrived in Minnesota! And by Spring, I mean it officially reached 80 degrees here yesterday. Last night we grilled for the first time this season, and it was wonderful. My husband is one of those guys that would be happy eating cereal for dinner several nights a week if I let him, yet he considers the grilling of a steak a sacred process. He’s a master, and the New York strip that he grilled-up last night was heavenly. I mean this now, I’d put it up against any fancy restaurant’s offering. Anyway, I know we’ll be doing a lot more grilling now that the weather has turned, so I came up with this carrot salad that is a fantastic side dish. It’s also perfect if you’re in the mood for a light lunch.
It seems as though carrots are often just an afterthought in most dishes. Need a little color in some soup, throw a carrot in! (Well, except in this soup– one of my favorites– where they’re the star.) I happen to love carrots. They have that nice slightly-sweet flavor, a wonderful crunch, and amazing longevity. In this salad they take center stage. The flavors are bright, yet there is a nice, complex, smokiness to give it depth. Remember a couple of weeks ago when I made that homemade Harissa? It is brilliant combined with these ingredients. The ricotta salata cheese lends a bit of saltiness to this dish. If you can’t find ricotta salata, feta is a good substitute. Personally, I prefer ricotta salata for most salads, because its subtlety allows the other flavors to be more pronounced. And the creaminess is a welcome addition to most any salad. The cilantro and lime add that little zing of acidity that compliments the harissa and carrots wonderfully. If your Harissa is a little on the thick side, feel free to thin it out with a few drops of water or olive oil. Don’t overdo it though, since there is a squeeze of lime juice at the end that loosens everything up.
The Recipe: Simple Carrot Salad with Harissa and Cilantro
2 carrots, peeled, then thinly sliced with a vegetable peeler
1/2 cup long ribbons of red cabbage
handful of cilantro
1 tablespoon Homemade Harissa or store bought
2 tablespoons of crumbled ricotta salata cheese
sea salt, to taste
This is more of an idea, than a recipe. Make as much or as little as you want. This amount will serve one beautifully. Cut the carrot anyway that you want, though I prefer long beautiful ribbons made by using a vegetable peeler. They’re just so pretty that way! Toss all of the ingredients, except the ricotta salata and lime into a large bowl. Using tongs, gently incorporate the Harissa onto the vegetables. Add more if you like. If your Harissa is a bit on the thick side, add a bit of water or olive oil to thin it out. Plate your salad and top with crumbled ricotta salata cheese and a couple squeezes of lime juice. Add a sprinkle of salt, if necessary. Enjoy!
Have a lovely week and thanks for stopping by Relishing it!