Monday, October 04, 2010
Moroccan Carrot and Chard Salad
It's hard to know what to cook these days. We're not yet into the brown-leafed, squash-studded days of fall here in Portland, but at the same time it's not really summer either. We've been alternating between barbecue-ready sunny afternoons, and rainy cold days that make you wonder if it's not too soon to dig out your wool sweaters. Hot soup? Cold salad? Hard to say.
This carrot and chard dish is one of my favorite recipes for these liminal days. It's a warm salad from the Moroccan tradition, pairing cooked carrots and chard with a bright herbal dressing. The recipe comes from Wolfgang Puck's contribution to The New York Times Passover Cookbook, and it's graced our Passover table for the past two years. The seder meal is often a celebration of Spring, and sprightly spears of asparagus are a common choice. But it's also right on the seasonal cusp, and depending upon the particulars of the Jewish calendar and the weather patterns, Passover can happen weeks before the chilly fields are even thinking about asparagus. This dish is a perfect choice for times like these, and not just because the shoulder crops of roots and greens are in season: the earthy/sweet carrots and rich chard provide a hearty, autumnal base, but the bright lemon juice and parsley perk things up with bright and sunny notes. On these strange days, when you wrap a thick cardigan around your sleeveless shirt, it's the perfect recipe.
Moroccan Carrot and Chard Salad
adapted, heavily, from Wolfgang Puck's recipe in The New York Times Passover Cookbook (I roasted instead of simmered the carrots, upped the parsley, reduced the oil, and made a few other tweaks)
serves 4-6 as a side dish
2 lb carrots, peeled and cut on the diagonal into 1" chunks (or longer if you like a more dramatic presentation)
1/4 cup olive oil, divided
1 tsp ground cumin
1 large bunch (or two small bunches) Swiss chard, coarsely chopped (stems included)
1 clove garlic, pressed
zest and juice of 1 lemon
salt and pepper
1/2 large bunch (or 1 small bunch) flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Toss the carrots in a baking dish with 1 Tbsp of the olive oil, and sprinkle on the cumin and a few pinches of salt. Stir to coat the carrots with the oil and seasonings. Roast, stirring occasionally, until the carrots are soft and caramelizing on the edges, about 25-30 minutes (adjust the time depending upon how well-caramelized you like your carrots). Remove from the oven and set aside.
While the carrots are roasting, steam the chard in a steamer basket until wilted and soft, about 5-10 minutes. If you don't have a steamer basket, you can just simmer the chard for a few minutes in a large pot of boiling water, then drain well. Set aside.
In the meanwhile, make the dressing: mix together the remaining olive oil, garlic, and lemon juice and zest, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Place the carrots on a serving dish, top with the chard and parsley, and then pour the dressing over everything. You can toss to combine, or leave as is, like a composed salad. Serve warm. It's even nicer as the flavors sit and combine, but I seldom wait that long.