Recipe, photography and styling by Tanya Zouev.
Carrots are a beautiful vegetable, and I believe any vegetable my three year old will eat to be particularly beautiful. This salad started out as a way to use up a very large amount of organic carrots I bought on special, not realising that I already had a very large amount of organic carrots in the back of the fridge. If there is one thing I hate it’s wasting food, and since one can only eat so many carrot purees, carrot cupcakes and steamed carrots in a week, my mum suggested grating them up into a salad.
The dressing for this salad is an unusual combination of flavours. It is essentially made up of Middle-Eastern ingredients with its olive oil, red wine vinegar and spices, however the inclusion of dark toasted sesame oil (a condiment widely used in Asian cooking) takes it to another level. I have made this salad both with and without the sesame oil and finally decided it was the magic ingredient, and one the salad is just not the same without. (Incidentally I came to this conclusion after a recent BBQ where I served this salad and I sat at the table puzzled unable to concentrate on conversation as to why the salad wasn’t as good as usual. I worked out it was because I had forgotten to add the sesame oil!)
The combination of sweet crunchy carrot with coriander, nutty sesame seeds tossed through with the sesame oil dressing make it to be a salad which is delicious and satisfying. It partners well with steak, fish or chicken, and especially lamb. It is a good salad to take to a BBQ or pot-luck as it’s so pretty and it always attracts a lot of compliments both for flavour and appearance. An added bonus is it lasts a couple of days in the fridge without going soggy and the flavours develop even further.
To make the salad I used a the Quick Slice Julienne Mandolin by Kuhn Rikon purchased on Amazon.com for about twenty bucks, which I love. I have purchased countless various mandolin slicers and graters over the years and they have all ended up at garage sales or being donated, except this one, it’s a keeper.
Prep time: 30 mins, cooking time: 10 mins. Serves 6-8 as a side.
1 kilo (approximately 2 pounds) carrots
1 standard supermarket size bunch coriander
1/2 cup sesame seeds, toasted
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground chilli or chilli flakes
salt to taste
1. Wash and grate the carrots on a mandolin, then place in a large bowl. I don’t bother peeling carrots for this recipe, I’ll leave it up to you if you wish to. Pick all the leaves off your coriander stems and place in bowl on top of carrots. If you like eating the stems of coriander you may chop these finely and include them in the salad. Set aside.
2. Toast the sesame seeds over low to medium heat in a fry pan or a baking tray in the oven set to about 200 degrees (about 400º F), stirring with a wooden spoon from time to time until they turn a golden brown (about 5 minutes). Remove from heat and set aside. (Please make sure you watch your seeds or set a timer for 2-3 minute intervals when doing this as I have ruined countless quantities of seeds and nuts by forgetting about them.)
3. Pour the olive oil, red wine vinegar, sesame oil and spices into a bowl and whisk thoroughly to combine. Pour dressing over the salad, toss and serve.
*Photography and styling notes:
I love Moroccan homewares, particularly shabby ones like my beloved turquoise bowl I purchased about ten years ago from Moroccan importer, Ambiance Interiors in Alexandria Sydney. The salad servers with the fish handles are from the local Goodwill, the little jug courtesy of the Salvo’s Mona Vale and the background was salvaged out of hard rubbish on the street. These shoots are always so much fun to put together and I love the creative process of making something beautiful out of other peoples cast offs. The only type of light used in this image is window light.