I don’t know about you, but I struggle using carrots in my cooking in the summer months. Fall and winter? No problem! I love a hearty beef stew chock-full of carrots, a nice roasted carrot side dish at Thanksgiving, or a warm, spiced carrot soup. But aside from making carrot pickles or using them as a vehicle for hummus or creamy dressings, how to incorporate these crunchy, nutrient-rich orange sticks into my weekly rotation during the hotter months?
This is a question I think about more than most people; not just because I spend the majority of my time thinking about food anyway, but because I have a deep, unyielding love for those longer-lasting varieties. You know the ones - potatoes, onion, cabbage, carrots...any of the guys I can forget about during a particularly busy week (or two) and then rediscover - still fresh and forgiving of my hectic schedule - have a permanent place in my heart.
During these unprecedented times, it can not only be difficult to access fresh produce, but figure out creative ways to use what you do manage to get your hands on. Thanks to Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA)'s Fresh Food Fund, getting access to fresh produce will become just a little bit easier for families in need; SideChef wanted to take it one step further by providing a simple, delicious way to turn the humble carrot into a refreshing summer meal. And so with a flexible ingredient list in mind, I put together this summer salad. It not only lets the natural sweetness of raw carrot shine - it’s also designed to be quick and hassle-free, without turning on a single kitchen appliance.
It’s simple - we start with ribbons of fresh, raw carrots, and add a bunch of stuff that you probably have laying around your kitchen already. Even if you don’t, this salad can put up with a LOT of substitutions. Don’t have white wine vinegar? Feel free to throw some apple cider vinegar in there, or even some white balsamic. No honey? Agave will work fine! Don’t like cilantro? I’m so sorry, you’re missing out - but some mint or even fresh basil will fill the requisite “herby” flavor needed to balance out this salad. Feta and goat cheese both work great because of their creamy, tangy flavor - but a dollop of Greek yogurt in the dressing would work as a replacement flavor if your fridge is currently cheeseless.
At the end of the day - this recipe is designed to be made your own. Shake up that dressing and give it a taste - if it’s too sweet, add more vinegar to punch up the flavor. Too “puckery”? Add a bit more sweetness to balance out the acidity. Want some more heat? Go for it - a few shakes of crushed red pepper flakes won’t go amiss, or even a dash of cayenne. Add more ginger powder, use fresh ginger instead, or take it out completely.
The point is - if it tastes good to you, then it’s perfect.