While today’s weather in San Francisco doesn’t reflect it (rain!), we’re coming to the end of spring now, with longer and longer days to enjoy. I am very much looking forward to summer tomatoes and stone fruit, but while we still have them to enjoy, I’m cooking with as much spring produce as I can. What comes to mind for you? Spring makes me think of carrots, asparagus, radishes, and peas. Bell peppers and arugula are in season, and if you look at the seasonality charts, mangoes are in season somewhere!
As always, I thought about how to use these happily readily available vegetables and fruits and prepare them in less expected ways, using the power of herbs, spices and flavors from around the world. While this salad may look like just a pile of grated carrots, this recipe from sadly defunct Lucky Peach is absolutely delicious and also demonstrates several cooking maxims:
1) the simplest recipes are often the best
2) how a vegetable is cut makes a difference in flavor
3) the Indian method of tempering spices in oil to release aromatics is a simple technique that has a big impact on flavor and
3) this is an example of a dish whose flavors will only improve with time, which makes it a great potluck dish
The trickiest ingredient in this to obtain are the curry leaves, which you’ll have to get from an Indian market. Trust me, it’s worth it. If you make a trip to get some, get extra and either freeze or dehydrate the rest for later use. There’s really no substitute for the unique flavor of curry leaves, but if you absolutely cannot get them, I would substitute a half cup of chopped cilantro to this salad (but do not add to the oil, use fresh). So time to get out your box grater and get to work!
May is also Asian Pacific American History Month. Last week, I wrote about Taiwanese Hot Pot, which is the ultimate meal in cooking and eating together.
Watch this page for more Asian and Asian American recipes in the next few weeks!
Grated Carrot Salad with Black Mustard Seed and Curry Leaves
Adapted from Lucky Peach Power Vegetables
4 carrots, peeled and grated
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 sprig fresh curry leaf, leaves only
1 tsp black mustard seed
juice of one lime
kosher salt, to taste
- Warm oil in a small frying pan over medium heat.
- Add mustard seeds and allow to cook until they start popping in the pan.
- Add curry leaves and then turn off heat. Allow to cool in pan.
- Place grated carrots in a bowl.
- Add cooled spiced oil and lime juice to the carrots and mix well with a fork. Add salt, a pinch at a time, to taste.
Nutrition Info: 81 cal, fat 7 g, protein 1 g, sodium 35 mg, sugar 2 g
Carrots are a great source of beta-carotene, fiber, vitamin K, potassium and antioxidants.
Mustard seeds are an excellent source of selenium and a very good source of omega-3 fatty acids and manganese.
Curry leaves are thought to be anti-inflammatory.
You’re invited to join my healthy eating community on Facebook, www.Facebook.com/TheDoctorsSpicebox! And if you’d like to cook with me, visit the Kaiser Permanente San Francisco Health Education webpage for information about the Thrive Kitchen and to register for a class. Registration opens one month before each class. See you in the kitchen!