Yellow Mustard, Orange Carrots and Red Communism
May 03, 2009

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MustardCarrot1 Before getting in to this latest carrot exploration, I need to explain that my personal history with mustard is short.  I was a mayonnaise girl in my youth. And I did think you had to be one or the other. For some reason, my childhood was filled with these imagined food dichotomies: you either liked mayonnaise or mustard, but not both. Chocolate or vanilla is another good example. The sensible among us spread mayonnaise on our sandwiches and ended a meal with vanilla ice cream. In the cold war era, I felt like these choices were akin to being a loyal patriot for democracy versus becoming a communist. Imagine my concern when I noticed my father spreading mayonnaise and mustard on his sandwich and that my mother added vanilla extract to chocolate cookie dough. What are they, anarchists? My aversion to mustard continued well past the point I'd overcome the majority of my other pickiness, which was of course also long after the cold war ended. These days, I don't go so far as to special order my Croque Madam without mustard, but I also don't actively spread mustard on sandwiches of my own making.

I had several carrot dishes picked out to try.  I don't even know why I had a mustard-bearing one among them, but you won't be surprised that it was at the bottom of the list.

However, it was 7 pm on a weeknight and it wasn't until my key hit the lock of the apartment that I remembered I was planning to try out another carrot recipe. I had the lion's share of a great big bag of carrots, but nothing else to round out a recipe. (I'd say this should be called the rabbit's share, but rumor has it rabbits actually prefer to eat grasses, weeds and their own poop. I think I'll stick with the lion.) I couldn't convince myself to head back out to the grocery store; I needed something I could make with ingredients we already had around the house. A quick look around the kitchen confirmed what my sinking heart already knew:  the only recipe I could make was the mustard-based one.

Dijon Vinaigrette Carrot Salad
I Heart My Cuisinart

After the folly of the sweet carrot salad I made a couple days before, I knew I wanted something savory. The aptly (but not very descriptively) named Savory Carrot Salad by The Nourishing Gourmet caught my attention for being unabashedly savory while also making use of some common ingredients we already had around. I changed the recipe only a little from the original, mostly through the addition of orange zest, use of fresh basil instead of dried, and suggested amounts of salt and pepper as I found the "dash or two" too little. Though admittedly, I'm not sure I have a great handle on how much a dash is supposed to be. Oh, two pinches - that clears everything up. I also couldn't help renaming it to be a little more descriptive. Here's what I did:

4 carrots, shredded
2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons of Dijon mustard
2 garlic cloves, small diced
3 to 5 basil leaves, chiffonade or diced
2 teaspoons orange zest (about 1/2 to 1 orange worth of zest)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoons pepper

Shred the carrots in the food processor. If you are still wasting time chopping and shredding by hand, you should seriously consider ordering a 12 or 14 cup Cuisinart or equivalent as soon as possible. You'll get so much more use out of it than that Kitchen-Aid Mixer you've been eyeing and the Cuisinart comes in red now too!

Small dice the garlic, cut up the basil, and zest the orange peel then mix these together with the remaining ingredients (other than the carrots) to make a thick dressing. Pour this over the carrots and don't panic when it doesn't look like nearly enough to cover all the carrots you have. The flavor is strong and the dressing should be viscous enough that you won't need the carrots to be drowning in extra dressing. Just mix it all up until everything is lightly coated and serve.

MustardCarrot2 The spiciness of the raw garlic and mustard contrasted nicely with the natural sweetness of the carrot. The orange peel amplified the juicy freshness of carrots. Both Orion and I found this a compelling side dish. The leftovers were used a couple days later during an impromptu dinner party with friends. They became one ingredient in an otherwise simple salad and added a surprising zing to the bowl of greens. If you end up with leftovers, note that they do lose some of their crunch over time, but still taste great as part of a salad.

This salad is a quick weeknight side dish with serious adult appeal.  Not bad at all considering it's simply shredded carrots with some goop on them. It's a big step for me to make a dish using mustard. I'm proud to have overcome another childhood aversion, and I'll thank you not to call me a mustard-eating commie pinko.

May 3, 2009 in side_dishes, vegetables | Permalink


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Awesome recipe... my husband was so happy that he now wants to eat it everyday...

Posted by: folfox chemotherapy at Aug 17, 2011 1:41:01 AM