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Roast carrots to bring out their sweetness in this salad

A bracing dressing spiked with sweet-tart pomegranate molasses pairs nicely with the gentle crunch from the arugula and fennel and the rich softness from the carrots.

New York Times

A bracing dressing spiked with sweet-tart pomegranate molasses pairs nicely with the gentle crunch from the arugula and fennel and the rich softness from the carrots.

A few years ago, carrots were like celery and onions, part of many a dish but rarely the star. Maybe you would see them as a side dish, buttered and glazed, or pureed into a soup.

Then one day, roasted heirloom carrots in various colors started appearing in trendy restaurants as an appetizer — or even a main course.

The roots had arrived, earning their place in the farm-to-table pantheon next to the burnished cauliflower and crispy Brussels sprouts.

I'm in full favor of this development, because roasting is one of my favorite ways to cook a carrot. The sweet juices condense in the oven's high heat, turning honeylike and golden. The flesh slackens, the pointy bits char. They are wonderful eaten steaming hot from the oven, and just as good when allowed to cool to room temperature, making them as convenient as they are enticing.

In this extremely pretty recipe, the carrots give heft to a bright, herbal salad shot through with thinly sliced fennel. The arugula and fennel lend a gentle crunch; the carrots give their rich softness. And a bracing dressing spiked with sweet-tart pomegranate molasses lifts all of the elements, bringing them together.

About the pomegranate molasses: If you don't happen to have a bottle, stock up. Available in specialty shops and Middle Eastern groceries, a $5 bottle will keep forever in the pantry and be on hand whenever you want to add sweetness and tang in one quick dash. Or try making your own by simmering down pomegranate juice with a bit of sugar and lemon juice until syrupy.

I regularly grab it when I want to give a salad dressing a touch of sweetness, but when honey would be too sugary. With its high acidity level, pomegranate molasses never gets cloying.

It's also lovely drizzled on grain dishes, grilled meats and pretty much any vegetable that comes out of your oven.

To further bring out the pomegranate flavor in this salad, I add pomegranate seeds as a juicy garnish.

When I'm serving this as a salad course, the garnishes stop there. But to transform it into a light main course, I'll top it with plain yogurt and either nuts or pita chips for a more assertive crunch. Gorgeous roasted carrots don't need any more than that to shine.


Roasted Carrot Salad With Arugula and Pomegranate

1 pound carrots, peeled and cut into 2-inch lengths (halve them if carrots are large)

¼ teaspoon kosher salt, more to taste

teaspoon ground black pepper, more to taste

¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, more as needed

½ teaspoon ground cumin

1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses

½ tablespoon fresh lemon juice, more to taste

1 garlic clove, finely grated or minced

½ teaspoon Dijon mustard

3 ounces baby arugula (about 3 cups)

1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced

¼ cup fresh dill fronds or mint leaves

Pomegranate seeds, as needed

Yogurt, for serving (optional)

Toasted walnuts or crumbled pita chips, for serving (optional)

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Toss carrots with salt, pepper and 2 tablespoons oil on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until edges are caramelized and carrots are tender, 28 to 33 minutes. Remove from oven and immediately toss with cumin. Let cool for a few minutes while you make the dressing. Carrots should be slightly warm but not hot when tossed with the greens.

In a large bowl, whisk together pomegranate molasses, lemon juice, garlic, mustard and large pinch of salt and pepper. Taste and adjust lemon juice and seasonings if necessary. Whisk in remaining ¼ cup oil until emulsified.

Stir carrots into dressing, then gently toss with arugula, fennel and dill or mint. Serve immediately, drizzled with more olive oil and topped with pomegranate seeds, and yogurt and nuts or pita chips if using.

Serves 4.

Source: Melissa Clark, New York Times

Roast carrots to bring out their sweetness in this salad 06/14/17 [Last modified: Friday, June 9, 2017 4:30pm]
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