Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Burnt Carrot Salad with Goat Cheese and Garlic Chips

I have to say I am really really sorry that I do not have a picture of this. Work has been really busy, and I am lucky to get a home cooked meal on the table at all, so snapping some photos before we dig in is usually too much to ask right now. This was a gorgeous dish though. Bright orange carrots with little charred sections contrasted against leafy green arugula. Crumbled goat cheese and little golden chips of toasted garlic. This was a meal for those of us who appreciate the aesthetics of food as well as the flavor.
This was another one of those meals that I hesitated to tell Tim about in advance. My anticipated reaction from him went something like this: "You mean we are having burnt carrots and some lettuce for dinner? And the cheese cost you how much?" I expected that this would be too sophisticated for his simple, meat-and-potatoes palate. I under-estimated him, and the work that I have done to introduce him to good food over the last few years. Luckily, and surprisingly when we sat down with this beautiful salad accompanied by a slightly toasted piece of bread, Tim took his first bite and said "wow, this is good. I really like the carrots this way" and then I almost choked. But he was right. Something happens when you char carrots. It is so simple, but their sweet, rich flavor really comes out.
Now, I know this is really going to shock you, but what really made this salad for me was the garlic. It's flavor is quite subtle in relation to everything else. The toasting of the garlic chips really brought out the sweetness and balanced out some of the garlic's usual spice. Every once in a while you get a bite that has the subtle garlicky kick, and it is so good. Okay, you all know how much I love garlic so I will just give you the recipe.

Burnt Carrot Salad with Goat Cheese and Garlic Chips
Adapted from the Chicago Tribune Good Eating Section

1 C Extra Virgin Olive Oil
4 Cloves Garlic, very thinly sliced
2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
black pepper
8 Medium Carrots, peeled
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh Thyme, or 1./2 teaspoon dried
1 small bunch Flat Leaf (Italian) Parsley, leaves only
2 small bunches of Arugula, trimmed and rinsed
6 oz Goat Cheese

Heat oil in a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until just golden, about 20 seconds. immediately remove and place on a plate layered with paper towels. Let the oil cool and pour into a bowl. Wipe out skillet.
Put vinegar in a small bowl and whisk in 5 Tablespoons of the garlic oil. Season with 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and pepper to taste.
Cut the carrots into rough sticks. Toss in a bowl with 3 tablespoons of the garlic oil , thyme, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon of salt and pepper to taste.
Heat the same skillet over high heat. Cook the carrots in a single layer. Cook until lightly charred on one side, 3-5 minutes. Turn and cook until lightly charred and tender on the other side, 2-3 minutes.
Toss the parsley and arugula with half of the vinaigrette on a large platter. Arrange carrots on top. crumble goat cheese over the carrots and top with the garlic chips. Drizzle the remaining vinaigrette over the salad. Serve with toasted bread.

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