Shaved Carrot and Asparagus Salad

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Last Saturday morning I went to the farmer’s market in New York’s Union Square, planning to check out what fresh green vegetables were finally in season and then decide on a side dish for an impromptu dinner party my boyfriend Joe and I were cooking at his apartment that night. Nice try, me! The market was still largely in winter hibernation mode, with lots of carrots, potatoes, mystery apples from last fall, and a lot of baked goods. It was important to try some of those to see if they might qualify as side dishes.

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The menu needed something light and bright, so I went with carrots and decided to make a fresh, lemony carrot salad.   I also cheated a little and pretended I found asparagus there, because you might already be able to find it, and because there was enough in the grocery store to convince me it’s in season somewhere.

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This is an easy, versatile and absolutely delicious side dish. The shaved carrots and asparagus are tossed in a simple lemon juice and olive oil vinaigrette, which softens them slightly. The cumin in the dressing gives the salad an earthy, Moroccan air, and the mint, goat cheese and pistachios turn a simple bowl of vegetables into a dish bursting with flavor and lots different textures in each bite. If a vegetable side could be a showstopper, this would definitely be it.

The only real work here is the vegetable prep, which takes a little patience, but is so worth it, especially because you can make this whole dish ahead of time and let it sit in the fridge until dinner. (Then just add the mint, goat cheese, and pistachios before serving.)

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While the asparagus is shaved with a simple vegetable peeler, there are a few different ways you can cut the carrots. You can spiralize them, you can cut them by hand with a sharp knife (a little time consuming, but works!) or use a julienne peeler.  I bought one last week on Amazon for $10, and it was a total revelation.  If you like to make zucchini noodles, butternut squash noodles, or other vegetables cut into long strips (cucumber! radish! potato?) you definitely need this thing. The blade is a regular peeler on one side, and julienne on the other, and is much sharper than other peelers I’ve used. Just be careful with your fingers!

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Like many of my recipes, this salad serves 4-6 people, but you can easily double it for larger groups. Just get a friend to help with the vegetable prepping! (Winkie promised he would help, but he had trouble using the peeler.)

Shaved Carrot and Asparagus Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 ¼ pound carrots
  • 1 pound asparagus stalks
  • ¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint, plus more for serving
  • ½ cup shelled pistachios, plus more for serving
  • ½ cup crumbled goat cheese

Directions

  1. Using a sharp knife, cut the carrots into long, thin matchsticks. If you have a julienne peeler, or Spiralizer, this will be even easier. Place in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Trim 1-inch from the bottom of the asparagus stalks. Using a vegetable peeler, shave the asparagus into thin ribbons. (I lay the stalks flat against a cutting board, and holding the asparagus at the thick end of the stalk, shave through the flowery head.) Cut any remaining pieces of asparagus stalk you weren’t able to reach with the peeler into 1-inch pieces and add them to the bowl.
  3. In a glass measuring cup, whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, salt, pepper and cumin. Pour over the carrots and asparagus and toss well.
  4. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, or up to six hours. When ready to serve, add the mint and pistachios, and toss well. Transfer to a serving dish and top with additional chopped mint, pistachios, and the goat cheese. Serve immediately.

Savory Sweet Potato Crumble

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Growing up, we had sweet potatoes with toasted marshmallows more times than I can count. They were so decadent and over the top, and while I will never complain about having marshmallows for dinner (the goal was always to end up with as much of the topping and as few of the sweet potatoes on our plates as possible) the sweet potatoes got a little lost under all that sugar.

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I wanted to come up with a recipe for sweet potatoes that were every bit as decadent as the ones my brothers and I loved as kids, but with a more interesting and savory flavor profile for Thanksgiving. This Savory Sweet Potato Crumble hits all those marks – and let’s just say, it goes a lot better with turkey and gravy than marshmallows do.

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The crumble is made with walnuts, flour, fresh sage, brown sugar, Parmesan, a touch of heat from crushed pepper flakes, and of course, a generous amount of butter. It’s essentially a mash-up of Thanksgiving stuffing and a cheesy bread crumb topping. The potatoes underneath are creamy and studded with shallots caramelized in brown butter. Together, the crisp, savory crumble and slightly sweet, oniony potatoes are a winning pair, and you won’t believe how much the house smells like pure Thanksgiving when this dish is in the oven. It is the kind of smell Yankee Candles aspire to, and one that can only truly exist when a pan of something homemade and delicious is bubbling away in the oven.

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Whether you’re cooking for the big night next week, or are in need of a great last minute recipe for your Friendsgiving this weekend, these sweet potatoes are a real showstopper and definitely not your average side dish. (And they don’t just have to be for Thanksgiving, either!)

Savory Sweet Potato Crumble

Ingredients

  • 4 lbs sweet potatoes, scrubbed (6 medium)
  • 2 cups thinly sliced shallots (about 6 large)
  • 9 tbsp (1 stick + 1 tbsp) unsalted butter, at room temperature, divided
  • 4 tbsp light brown sugar, divided
  • 1 ½ cups finely chopped walnuts
  • ¾ cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped fresh sage
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes, divided
  • ½ cup whole milk
  • kosher salt

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Prick the potatoes several times with the tines of a fork, and bake for 1 hour, or until tender when tested with a knife. Set aside.
  3. Meanwhile, heat 4 tbsp of the butter in a medium (10 inch) sauté pan. Cook the butter over medium-low heat for three minutes, watching carefully, until brown flecks begin to form. Immediately remove the pan from the heat and add the shallots and 1 tablespoon of the brown sugar. Cook over medium-low heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the shallots are tender and lightly browned.  Set aside.
  4. In a medium bowl, combine the walnuts, flour, Parmesan, sage, ¼ tsp red pepper flakes, 2 tbsp of the brown sugar, the remaining 5 tbsp butter, and 1 tsp salt. Using your fingers, pinch the mixture together to form large crumbles. Set aside.
  5. Peel the potatoes and place the flesh in a large mixing bowl, discarding the skin.  With a hand mixer on low speed or a potato masher, beat the potato mixture until smooth. Fold in the shallot mixture, the remaining tablespoon of brown sugar, the milk, ¼ tsp red pepper flakes and 2 tsp salt and combine.
  6. Transfer to a large, shallow baking dish.  Sprinkle the crumble mixture evenly over the potatoes and bake for 30 minutes, until the crumble is browned and the potatoes are heated through. Serve hot.