Good chefs can elevate common ingredients and create dishes with a pleasing contrast of textures. We were so taken with this starter salad by "Top Chef Masters" alumna Elizabeth Falkner, from her new cookbook, we adjusted amounts to make it a main course.
Do not use bagged, baby-cut carrots. Serve with a cold soup.
Adapted from Falkner's "Cooking Off the Clock: Recipes From My Downtime" (Ten Speed Press, 2012).
Roasted and Raw Carrot Salad with Avocado and Toasted Cumin Vinaigrette
4 to 6 fat, short, young carrots (12 or 13 ounces total; see headnote)
A drizzle of olive oil for the carrots, plus ╝ cup for the vinaigrette
Freshly ground black pepper
╝ cup pine nuts, for garnish
1 teaspoon cumin seed (may substitute ground cumin)
4 cups salad greens, such as mizuna, frisee, watercress or arugula
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Place an ovenproof wire rack inside a rimmed baking sheet. Fill a large bowl with water and ice cubes.
Peel the carrots. Use a vegetable peeler or mandoline to cut thin, lengthwise strips of carrot. Place half of them in the ice-water bath, where they should start to curl.
Place the other half flat on the rack inside the baking sheet. Drizzle them evenly with the oil then season with salt and pepper to taste. Roast for about 15 minutes, or until the edges start to caramelize. Transfer to the stove top (off the heat).
Meanwhile, toast the pine nuts in a small, dry skillet over medium-low heat, shaking the skillet a few times to promote even browning (but do not let them burn). The pine nuts should be fragrant and golden after about 5 minutes. Remove from the skillet and let the pine nuts cool.
Increase the heat to medium. Toast the cumin seed (or ground cumin, if using) in the same skillet for a few minutes, until they are fragrant. Transfer to a mortar and pestle or a cutting board; crush/process to a powder. Transfer to a small jar with a tight-fitting lid.
Squeeze 1 teaspoon of juice from the lime half into the jar. Cut the lemon in half; squeeze 2 tablespoons of juice into the jar. Add the V cup of oil and the cumin. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Seal and shake to form an emulsified vinaigrette.
Rinse and dry the salad greens as needed; place them in a mixing bowl. Peel and pit the avocado; cut the flesh into thin slices.
Remove the carrot ribbons from the ice water and pat them dry. Add to the salad greens. Drizzle with the vinaigrette; toss to coat evenly. Divide between individual plates.
Arrange the roasted carrot and avocado slices on each portion, then sprinkle with the toasted pine nuts. Serve right away.
Per serving: 490 calories, 5g protein, 27g carbohydrates, 43g fat, 6g saturated fat, no cholesterol, 260mg sodium, 12g dietary fiber, 9g sugar.