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Tender ‘White Satin’ and Crisp ‘Purple Haze’ Carrot Salad With ‘Strawberry’ Spinach, Raspberries, and Crushed-Herb Vinaigrette

By Chef Aaron London, Ubuntu Restaurant

1/4 onion, thinly sliced
2 large carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
Peel of 1/4 orange
1 cup grapeseed oil
Salt
Water
Mixed-color baby carrots (reserve the carrot tops for cooking and garnish)
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 sprig rosemary
2 oranges
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 quart picked greens (e.g., arugula, chervil, celery leaf, mint)
1/2 pint raspberries
Pepper
2 Tbsp. crushed toasted hazelnuts
1 big handful of baby spinach
Edible flowers or garnish of choice
For the Carrot Purée: 

  • Sweat the onion, sliced carrots, and orange peel in a little grapeseed oil and salt in a heavy-bottom pot until very tender. Add 1 pint of water and reduce by half.
  • Blend on high until the mixture is smooth and blends easily. At the end, drizzle in a thin stream of 1 teaspoonful of oil to emulsify the mixture and make it creamy and fluffy. Reserve the purée.

For the Tender Carrots: 

  • Wash the baby carrots and tops thoroughly. Remove the tops from all the baby carrots, and reserve some of the smaller leaves in ice water for garnish. Place the rest of the tops in the bottom of a roasting pan.
  • Lay 2/3 of the carrots on the carrot tops in 1 or 2 even layers, followed by the garlic, whole-sprig rosemary, peel and juice of 1 orange, the sugar, enough water to cover, and a pinch of salt. Cover with tin foil and cook until tender, about an hour at 350°. Let rest in their liquid until it is time to plate.

For the Raw Carrots: 

  • Cut the remaining carrots into interesting shapes and shave on a mandoline.
  • Place directly into ice water so that they become crisp and twist into natural shapes.

For the Vinaigrette: 

  • Place the grapeseed oil in the freezer for 30 minutes before using.
  • Blanch and shock the quart of “rabbit greens” (greens of choice as listed above). Place in a blender with the oil and blend until smooth. Chill immediately.
  • Place the raspberries into a mixing bowl and lightly crush with a fork. Mix in the finely grated zest of 1 orange, a pinch of salt, and a twist of pepper.
  • Add the hazelnuts and 1/2 cup of the oil and marinate for half an hour.

To Finish: 

  • Spread the carrot purée on the bottom of 6 plates or wide bowls. The purée should be just above room temperature.
  • Remove the tender carrots from their cooking liquid and toss in a bowl with the juice of 1 orange and a spoonful of oil. Place them artfully into the purée.
  • Drain all the water off the raw carrots and toss them in a bowl with some oil and a pinch of salt. Arrange throughout the tender carrots, building as much height as possible.
  • Spoon the vinaigrette evenly over all the dishes, making sure to stir it often in order to ensure even dispersion.
  • Toss the spinach and other garnishes with the lightest drop of oil and a pinch of salt. Weave throughout the plates to make it look like the leaves and flowers are growing out of the carrots.

Makes 6 servings

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