Spicy, sweet, smoky and creamy. That’s a lot of adjectives to describe a dish, but multitudinous flavors are what make restaurant dishes stand out from those that we home cooks usually churn out.
Emilie Raffa, the Clever Carrot blogger who recently published her first book, “The Clever Cookbook: Get-Ahead Strategies and Timesaving Tips for Stress-Free Home Cooking” (Page Street, $21.99), has a few tricks up her sleeve. Some of those involve homemade spice blends, like the one in this roasted carrot salad, but she also mixes textures, cooking methods and ingredients to create complementary flavor profiles.
The raw avocado combined with the roasted but cooled carrots is one match, but so are the pine nuts and raisins, the tangy lemon juice with the smoky cumin and paprika. She recommends serving this with grilled meats and fish, but it would make a nice lunch on its own, too.
Spice-Roasted Carrot & Avocado Salad
For the Mexican spice blend:
2 Tbsp. coarse sea salt
2 tsp. cumin seed
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
2 Tbsp. chili powder
1 Tbsp. sweet smoked paprika
1 Tbsp. garlic powder
1 Tbsp. onion powder
1 Tbsp. dried oregano
For the salad:
4 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 Tbsp. olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 heaped tsp. Mexican spice blend
2 Tbsp. pine nuts
1/4 cup golden raisins
1 ripe Hass avocado
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Pinch of salt
Large handful of micro greens, sprouts or baby mesclun
Mix together the spice blend ingredients in a small jar and set aside.
Heat oven to 425 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the carrots in a large bowl. Add the olive oil and sprinkle with Mexican spice blend, reserving the rest of the mixture for another use. Toss well to coat. Spread the carrots out on your sheet pan.
Roast for about 20 minutes, or until the carrots are caramelized and tender. Remove from the oven, and add the pine nuts and raisins. Give it a good stir. Allow the carrots to cool slightly.
While the carrots are cooling, dice up the avocado. Drizzle with lemon juice to prevent browning and season with a pinch of salt. Add the avocados and greens to the carrots, and toss gently to combine. Finish with extra lemon juice and a drizzle of olive oil to taste. Serve at room temperature rustic style, directly on the baking sheet. Serves 2 to 4.
— From “The Clever Cookbook: Get-Ahead Strategies and Timesaving Tips for Stress-Free Home Cooking” by Emilie Raffa (Page Street, $21.99)