I can’t be the only not-at-all-an-actor (unless you count acting like a weirdo) who secretly wishes to be interviewed by James Lipton. First of all, he is awesome. Second of all, he has some amazing questions… Like the ones he always asks about favorite/least favorite words. I like talking about words.
And boy oh boy. I think I could go on a rather long rant about “awkward.” I can’t think of any other word that has been abused and misused like poor little “awkward.” I don’t dislike the word itself–not everyone can pull off the w-k-w combo! That is impressive. However. It seems everything today is “awkward.” It’s like we’re all stuck in that Alanis Morissette song about irony. A black fly in your chardonnay isn’t ironic, Alanis, and neither is it awkward, Lots of Other People. It’s gross.
That felt so good, you guys. Thank you for letting me put on my grouchy pants.
Let’s talk about words we like now. I have many! Among them: juicy, roasted, spicy, sweet, tart, creamy, orange, green. Do you see where I’m going? I’m going to salad town.
This isn’t the quickest dish to make, but it’s worth it. I’m a tinkerer, but this recipe, from April Bloomfield’s A Girl and Her Pig, is practically perfect.
It’s not quick to make because the carrots need to be roasted–with warm, fragrant spices and garlic. The carrots alone are to die for, and I bet they would make a killer side dish, perhaps during a colder season that calls for warm, spicy, soft roasted vegetables.
Since it’s spring, we’re not going that route. We’re adding fresh, juicy treasures to these carrots to make a perfectly balanced explosion of flavors and textures. Spicy carrots and juicy, sweet oranges make sweet, savory and spicy happen in a really beautiful way. Meanwhile, the carrot is roasted to a texture that almost resembles the creamy softness of a perfectly ripe avocado. The carrots are warm, and the avocado is chilled–even more contrast and more interest.
I liked this. I liked it a lot. I think you would too–nothing awkward or ironic about that.
Roasted Carrot, Avocado and Orange Salad
(recipe from A Girl and Her Pig, via Epicurious)
1 large garlic clove, mashed and peeled
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted and ground
1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds, toasted and ground
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
10 or so similarly sized young carrots, not peeled, 1/2 inch of the green tops left on
1 medium orange
1/2 of a ripe avocado, chilled in the fridge
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
A few cilantro sprigs
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Mash together the smushed garlic and a pinch of the salt on a cutting board; put the mixture in a large mixing bowl and add the cumin, coriander, crushed pepper flakes and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Add the carrots and toss to coat well. Season with additional salt, toss again, and arrange carrots in a single layer in a large baking dish. Scrape out whatever’s left in the mixing bowl and scatter it on top of the carrots. Gently pour 1/4 cup of water into an empty space of the dish, being careful not to wash the oil and spices off the carrots. Tilt the dish to spread the water evenly across the bottom. Cover with foil and roast in the preheated oven for 25 minutes. Remove foil and roast for about 35 minutes more, until the carrots are browned and tender. Remove from oven and allow the carrots to cool for a bit.
Meanwhile, segment the orange, reserving the juice. When the carrots have cooled a bit but are still warm, halve the avocado and slice one of the halves lengthwise (save the other half for another use).
In a large mixing bowl, combine the reserved orange juice, lemon juice, remaining tablespoon of olive oil and some salt to taste. Add the carrots, orange segments and avocado slices and toss ever so gently (also be sure to add the spices and garlic you’ve scraped from the carrot baking dish). Arrange salad on a plate and top with cilantro sprigs–serve immediately.
Serves one as a main course or two as a side (the original recipe serves more).