Today’s Toss: Roasted Rainbow Carrots With Pepitas and Avocado

20130220-104841.jpgToday’s Toss is a beautiful blend of spices that gives this salad depth toasted pepitas to give it additional crunch. Brightly colored purple, orange and yellow carrots pop against the green of the avocado and lettuce while the citrus dressing ties it all together. I used a blend of greens but you could use butter lettuce or mache as well. This is one of the best salads I have ever had. Hands down. Matter of fact, I am going to make this again! It could also be a wonderful side for a dinner or a brightly colored center piece for a get-together.

“This is one of the best salads I have ever had. Hands down.”

I was inspired by a salad in this month’s Food & Wine issue (March 2013). I made a few modifications to the recipe to make this version dairy-free and gluten-free.  With any recipe, I always modify to match what I have on hand.The citrus dressing is a wonderful compliment to the savory spices and works well on other salads too. Don’t be afraid to make more that what this recipe calls for.

***Sugar Tip and Hostess Note! Be forewarned, this dish has strong spices that will make your whole house smell. In a good way of course; however, if you are having guests over, you can prepare the carrots the day before to eliminate the strong cumin and garlic smell.

This salad can be made in five simple steps:

1) Clean and prep the vegetables

2) Make spiced oil

3) Toast pepitas and roast carrots

4) Make the citrus vinaigrette

5) Toss and enjoy!

What You Need

1 Head of Lettuce
1 Haas Avocado
1 bunch of rainbow colored carrots
1 Tangerine
1 Meyer Lemon
1/4 cup Pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
4T. Olive Oil
2 T. Sherry Vinegar
1/4t. honey
1/2 t. Fresh Thyme Leaves
1-2 Garlic Cloves (minced)
about a 1/2 t. cumin
about a 1/2 t. ancho chili powder
Kosher Salt and Freshly Cracked Black Pepper

Begin by cleaning, peeling and cutting your carrots in half the long way. Leave some of the tops for added visual appeal. I think they make the dish look extra rustic! Bring a deep skillet of salted water to a boil and blanch your carrots for about five minutes. If they are thinner, maybe even less. Remember, you will be roasting them too.

Once you have blanched the carrots, toss in about a tablespoon of olive oil then sprinkle with salt and pepper and transfer to a large roasting pan. Roast carrots for about 10 minutes at 375° before brushing with the spiced oil.

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While the carrots are in the oven, prepare the spiced oil by combining a shake of cumin, a shake of ancho chili powder, 1-2 freshly minced garlic cloves, 1/2 t. fresh thyme leaves, 2 T. Olive Oil, 2 T. sherry vinegar, pinch of kosher salt and a crack of black pepper. Stir to combine.

Evenly disperse your pepitas into a small baking dish for toasting. Remove your carrots from the oven. Slice your lemon and tangerines in half and put one half of each on the roasting pan and brush oil onto carrots and continue to cook for another 10 minutes. Place pepitas next to the roasting pan and toast for about 5-8 minutes. They should be a nice light brown color like the picture below. When you remove the pepitas from the oven, take a second to squeeze the roasted lemon and tangerine over your carrots and continue to cook.

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To make your citrus vinaigrette, take the other halves of the tangerine and meyer lemon that are not in the oven. Juice each half for a total of approximately 2T. of juice.  Combine 2T. of olive oil with the juices, sprinkle with salt and pepper and add a dollop of honey. Shake to combine and again before serving. Slice the avocado into long strips and set aside.

Remove your carrots form the oven and let rest for 1-2 minutes. Use a metal spatula to gently remove from the pan. In a large bowl, toss the greens, toasted pepitas and half of the avocado slices with the citrus vinaigrette. Very gently, toss in the carrots and stir. Add the remaining avocado slices and serve!
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