Since adopting Jackson, Tyler and I have been buying carrots with abandon, something that previously we never did. This dog is a foodie and is particularly fond of carrots and all other orange-hued vegetables so he gets them as a snack with peanut butter (it's like we have a five year old). Feeding him so many carrots got me thinking - why don't we eat carrots more often? I remember eating them as a kid - cooked slowly in orange juice and and brown sugar - but since then, I haven't really given them much thought.
That was until I stumbled across this recipe from the Smitten Kitchen archives in an attempt to up my own carrot intake. I know that carrot salad sounds very unexciting, but this recipe is so incredibly good. I have a hard time getting excited about salads in January, mostly because all the produce needs to be imported from some far off country and that makes me sad. Carrots on the other-hand can still be found at the farmers markets in January which makes this an incredibly seasonally appropriate dish. The bright Middle Eastern spices, tahini dressing, and crisped chickpeas takes this from ho-hum side dish to delicious main especially if served with some good cheese and even better bread.
Carrot Salad with Tahini, Crisped Chickpeas and Salted Pistachios
Recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen
1 3/4 cups cooked chickpeas, or 1 15-ounce can, drained and patted dry on paper towels
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
1/2 teaspoon zatar
1 pound carrots, peeled and coarsely grated
1/4 cup coarsely chopped parsley or cilantro
1/4 cup shelled, salted pistachios, coarsely chopped
1 medium garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup lemon juice
3 tablespoons well-stirred tahini
1 tablespoons water, plus more if needed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon zatar
1/2 teaspoon sumac
Salt and red pepper flakes (or Aleppo) to taste
Roast chickpeas: Heat oven to 425 degrees F. Toss chickpeas with one tablespoon olive oil, salt and cumin until they’re all coated. Spread them on a baking sheet or pan and roast them in the oven until they’re browned and crisp. This can take anywhere from 15 to 20 minutes, depending on the size and firmness of your chickpeas. Toss them occasionally to make sure they’re toasting evenly. Set aside until needed.
Make dressing: Whisk all ingredients together until smooth, adding more water if needed to thin the dressing slightly. Taste and adjust seasoning; don’t worry if it tastes a little sharp on the lemon, it will marry perfectly with the sweet grated carrots.
Assemble salad: Place grated carrots in large bowl and toss with parsley. Mix in 2/3 of the dressing, adding more if desired. Add more salt and pepper if needed. Sprinkle with a large handful of chickpeas (you’ll have extra and if you’re like us, won’t regret it) and pistachios and dig in.
Do ahead: Salad keeps well in the fridge for two days, however, I’d add the chickpeas and pistachios right before serving, so they don’t get soft.