As John Lennon's song goes "life is what happens to you while you are busy making other plans"... I'd also argue that life is what happens when you completely commit to the present moment with abandon and joy. In this case, this blog, this creative endeavor, here bearing a sublime (as in: impressing the mind with a sense of grandeur or power; inspiring awe, veneration, etc.) salad, which evolved naturally while setting forth to make my favorite version of curried carrots with yogurt dressing.
If this salad doesn’t steal your heart, you either don’t like curried foods, OR you somehow didn’t make it quite right, OR you purchased flavorless grocery-store carrots.
I can't emphasize enough how important it is to START WITH QUALITY INGREDIENTS, especially for simple recipes like this one! I have made this salad with arugula & carrots from the farmers market, and then from whole foods (even organic!) and the taste was completely night and day. So, GO SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL FARMERS MARKET!
As it often happens when I'm cooking, I was completely absorbed in a meditative-like state preparing, styling and photographing them to share with you here. Without realizing it, the afternoon (and lunch hour) passed. By the time I finished taking the last shot of this “vegetable side dish”, I was starving. I spontaneously threw a few (huge) handfuls of wild arugula I’d received from my farm crate into a big bowl, and placed some of the roasted carrots over the greens… sprinkling turmeric and cayenne-spiced pumpkin & sunflower seeds on top for protein and texture. Thank God - time to eat!
With my fork ready to attack this impromptu salad, I stopped myself: “Hold on Hangry! Maaaaybe photograph the salad…. Juuuust in case it’s even better than the carrots alone.” Begrudgingly, I listened to myself and photographed more. After which, without taking a moment to sit I shoved a generous bite standing at my kitchen counter. "Are you KIDDING me?!" I yapped with my mouth half-full as I plopped onto the stool beside me in disbelief. Either I was famished and delirious or this is (without exaggeration) the BEST salad I have ever had, or made. At least in that moment I felt very, very strongly about this. I’ve made many, many, many salads in my life… and have been disappointed many a times at restaurants by “meh” run-of-the mill cobs, caesars or fancily listed “gem lettuce salad” and the like.
This salad on the other hand… had everything my taste buds were missing in recent salad experiences: FLAVOR, contrast, brightness! It was tangy (yogurt), peppery (arugula), fresh (lemon), lightly spicy (cayenne), sweet (from the slight caramelization that happens when oven-roasting the carrots), savory, aromatic and subtly bitter (curry spices and turmeric), earthy (carrots, arugula)… AND crispy: not just from the seeds; the paste that you cover the carrots with toasts to a delicate crunch in the oven.
I know, ingredient list and preparation seems complex below, but trust me, it's so simple and worthwhile.
Preparation // 60 minutes
Preheat Oven to 425ºF.
In small bowl mix paste: finely grated garlic clove (I personally use a garlic press all the time and love it), Balti Curry seasoning, Greek Yogurt, until smooth.. salt & pepper (I like white pepper personally).
Add mix to carrots and coat, making sure to cover them evenly with a thin layer all around. Place evenly (about 1/4 to 1/2" apart from each other) on a rimmed baking sheet or large buttered shallow pyrex. Place in oven for 25-35 minutes, or until you begin to see some browning and light charring on ends. Also note that the curry coating should have crisped (not soggy paste still), and the carrots should be relatively tender if tested with a fork; they should taste sweet.
In the meantime heat Olive Oil & ground Turmeric over medium/low heat on your stove, swirling occasionally, for 2-3 minutes, until the oil has taken on a bright yellow color (can test by carefully dipping a white paper napkin)
In small bowl, add lemon juice, greek yogurt (or kefir), garlic clove, cumin, salt & pepper to taste, and whisk until smooth.
Place bed of wild arugula in a large salad bowl or serving dish, and drizzle with half of the turmeric olive oil mix, followed by half of the yogurt mix. Arrange carrots on top of arugula (you can also scrape any crisp bits of curry seasoning paste from the baking sheet and add to salad!)
Drizzle the remaining half of turmeric oil and yogurt mix over the carrots. Sprinkle the spiced pumpkin seeds, and finally garnish with the cilantro leaves.
Serve with lemon wedges, and enjoy!!
INGREDIENTS // SERVES 4
In a small bowl - mix paste:
1 garlic clove (finely grated, or garlic press)
2 Tbsp Balti Curry Seasoning ‡(dry, not paste)
1/4 cup whole-milk Greek Yogurt (Or Kefir if dairy intolerant)
3 Tbsp Olive Oil (Extra Virgin)
Salt & Pepper to taste
On lined baking sheet:
1 lb. small carrots (tops trimmed, washed/scrubbed, dried)
In small saucepan or butter warmer:
1/2 tsp Ground Turmeric
3 Tbsp Olive Oil (Extra Virgin)
In small bowl - Yogurt Mix:
3 Tbsp fresh-squeezed Lemon Juice
1/3 cup whole-milk Greek Yogurt (or Kefir if Dairy Intolerant)
1 garlic clove (finely grated, or use garlic press)
1/4 teaspoon cumin
Salt & Pepper to taste
For Garnish & Greens:
6-8 Handfuls of Wild Arugula
Turmeric & Cayenne spiced Pumpkin Seeds (can usually find these mixes at Whole Foods or health food stores in the bulk grains section)
Cilantro (1/4 bunch, leaves removed from stem)
‡Balti Curry is a spice blend of the following: coriander, garlic, ginger, cumin, chili pepper, cinnamon, mustard, cloves, cardamom, fennel, fenugreek, star anise, caraway, cilantro, anise, bay leaf... That's why I use this curry blend, all these spices work beautifully with carrots.
CARROT SIDE DISH make the recipe as originally intended, without arugula or pumpkin seeds.
DAIRY INTOLERANCE kefir is found to be digested well by people with dairy sensitivities.
MACROBIOTIC VEGGIE BOWL these carrots also make a great addition to a bowl of brown rice, with a steamed leafy green of choice, a spoonful of fermented veggies, beans and avocado (can sub beans with fried egg, too).
The way I see it is that a greater power uses us as vehicles to bring creative beauty into existence; whether it be art, or music or food... it has nothing to do with me really. ;) This may become that go-to dish for potlucks where you want to impress family & friends (whether it be in salad form or just veggie side dish).