Have you been taking carrots for granted like I have? Always around, kind of ordinary, not very exciting, right? Well, artist Paul Cezanne once said, “the day is coming when a single carrot freshly observed will set off a revolution”. I’m pretty sure Paul was referring to a colorful, culinary revolution.
Throughout history, carrots have shined their bright, usually orange light on art, literature, science, medicine, food and more. Originally grown for medicinal purposes, the fact that they are chock full of vitamin A to aid vision, along with vitamins C and K, potassium, dietary fiber, minerals, and antioxidants is a bonus to their culinary versatility.
With more natural sugar than any other vegetable, except beets, it’s no wonder that carrots are one of the world’s most popular vegetables – a favorite of children, adults, and four-legged friends – and they are virtually mandatory in a plant-based diet.
Carrots are delicious raw for snacking, on crudities platters, pickled, and in salads and juices. Braised, sautéed, steamed, or roasted, cooked carrots add an earthy sweetness to soups, stews, casseroles, purees, and puddings. A slightly decadent way of having your carrots and eating cake too in a tall, layered, raisin- studded, mouthwatering carrot cake, a bit less healthful but very scrumptious and popular with just about everyone.
Because carrots, citrus, and herbs are good culinary companions, I created this salad to show them off at their fresh, crispy, and colorful best. By adding garbanzo beans for some plant-based protein, this is a perfect summer dish to enjoy for a main course lunch at the beach or as a side dish at dinner on the patio. So I hope you’ll see your way to enjoying sweet, crunchy, healthy, always available carrots more often this summer, and all year round…
Fresh Carrot & Couscous Salad
1-6 ounce package of couscous
¾ cup diced fresh carrots
3/4 cup diced Persian cucumbers
1 cup chopped fresh spinach or kale*
1/2 cup garbanzo beans
½ cup raisins, currants, or dried cranberries
1/3 cup fresh dill
1 clove garlic, minced
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
2 Tbsp. seasoned rice vinegar
Salt and fresh black pepper to taste
1. Prepare the couscous according to package directions, then fluff with a fork and set aside to cool.
2. Toss the carrots, spinach, garbanzo beans, raisins, and fresh dill in with the couscous.
3. Whisk the dressing ingredients together and toss the dressing with the salad. Add salt and pepper to taste.
*If you want to use fresh kale which is everywhere these days, the kale should be massaged with a bit of lemon juice and coarse salt for 10 minutes or so before adding to the salad, or place the kale, lemon, salt mix in the fridge about 2 hours before incorporating.