Carrot, Feta, and Pistachio Salad with Orange Blossom Toss
I have a confession: I’m not a big fan of carrots. I mean, they’re beautiful and O.K. tasting and crunchy, but I feel like their brilliant color makes promises that the taste doesn’t deliver. I know, however that they are good for me (c’mon, how many times did your parents tell you that carrots were good for your eyesight) and those nearest and dearest to my heart happen to love carrots so I find ways to make them when I remember to. I almost never see a carrot recipe and say “THAT. I want that now!” Well, until I saw this gorgeous salad (I like beauty. I am fickle. I can be fooled by flamboyance.) in Lily Diamond’s new cookbook, Kale & Caramel: Recipes for Body, Heart, and Table.
These carrot ribbons are so luxuriously pretty and incredibly easy to make with a hand held peeler, I made this whole bowl up in minutes. (All while waiting on hold for a customer service matter, if you can believe that. Ha.) Feta cheese and pistachios? Yes, please! That I am interested in. I was not familiar with Orange Blossom Water until I made this recipe and I was a little afraid that it would be too floral tasting for me. However, I read the rest of the ingredients in the dressing and decided to go for it, since there are other bold and spicy flavors to counter-balance the sweet floral tones. (“I trust contrariness.”- a mantra of mine. Not just an excuse to be a jerk.) I got it at Whole Foods in the baking section, you can find it on online too, here. Happily, since it came in a rather large bottle and I do really like it, there is a whole section of the book dedicated to this ingredient. (So, you haven’t heard the last of Orange Blossom Water around here.)
I took the Golden Jumbo Raisins that I’ve become hooked on and soaked them in vinegar and added them to the salad too, since I can’t leave well enough alone. I feel like they are a perfect addition to this salad, however if you don’t like “fruit in your food”, feel free to omit them. As a matter of fact, this salad would also be delicious with a simple red wine or cider vinaigrette. I made it with a cider vinaigrette the first time, because I couldn’t wait to aquire all the ingredients to give it a try, and it was a hit.
We ate the salad as a side dish with grilled lamb burgers, asparagus, zucchini and israeli hummus. It is also delicious with grilled chicken or by itself. I used jumbo carrots to make the salad, they are available at most farmers markets, because I like the way they make large ribbons and slices. In Lily’s recipe she used 10 carrots, they must have been small because for the bowl above I used just two jumbo carrots and it was easily enough for four people as a side dish.
I hope you enjoy this perfectly easy and healthy summer side-dish as much as we did! Please let me know if you do! Here is the recipe:
- 10 carrots (Or 2-4 jumbo carrots), washed and tops trimmed and reserved
- 1 cup coarsely chopped fresh mint leaves, plus more for garnish
- 2/3 cup chopped toasted pistachios nuts
- 1/2 cup jumbo golden raisins, soaked in 1 Tbsp vinegar
- 2/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 3 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 1 1/2 tsp orange blossom water
- 2 tsp honey
- 1/4 tsp ground cumin
- 1/4 tsp ground cardamom
- 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper, plus more for garnish
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- Combine the oil, vinegar, orange blossom water, honey, and spices in a jar. Seal and shake to blend. (Or whisk in a bowl and set aside)
- Use a vegetable peeler, mandoline, or spiralizer to slice the carrots into long, thin strips. Finely chop a handful of carrot tops (1/4 cup,optional). Place in a large salad bowl.
- Add the mint, pistachios and raisins. Pour the dressing over all and toss to combine.
- Gently fold in the feta. Top with mint and extra red pepper flakes if you want an extra kick of spice.