Farmer’s markets are in full swing still and last Wednesday I picked up some beets, carrots, garlic and mint. At the time of purchase, I wasn’t envisioning a meal that would use everything I bought, but somehow everything came together and this incredibly colourful salad was the result.
Not only is this salad full of crunch and colour, it’s also ridiculously delicious. When I asked for more harissa ideas in my chicken-chickpea post, someone suggested this salad. Thank you! I played with the recipe and ended up with a new favourite.
Of course this isn’t an easy salad to make. There is a lot of shredding so watch your hands and be careful – you don’t want to cut yourself. I use a julienne slicer, but a box grater would work just fine. Red hands will result. You will look weird with red hands, no doubt about it. Cracking jokes about your shy, embarrassed hands will only get you so far (ie. not far at all, weirdo). Whatever! Just throw on a good podcast or a good album and get to work. It’ll be over before you know it. There might even be an attachment for the food processor but if there is, it’s not something I’ve used (I do have a food processor but have never used the various slicer attachments – should I?)
The spices get heated over the stove with oil and fresh garlic and sugar so that they can get all friendly and share in the joy that is this vinaigrette. Add lemon juice and dump it over the beets and carrots. Currants add another bit of sweetness. Also, I just like them in a carrot salad. But the mint!!! The mint! Don’t forget about it. Usually, when I see mint in a recipe, I just skip it because sometimes mint is just weird when there’s too much of it. But here it’s a delicate but powerful ingredient. It makes the salad. Use it.
carrot & beet salad with harissa & mint
(adapted from Smitten Kitchen’s carrot salad)
4 medium-sized beets, peeled
4 large carrots, peeled
4 T diced red onion (about a 1/4 of a small red onion)
3 T olive oil
1 big fat garlic clove, minced
1/2 T brown sugar or honey
1-2 t harissa
3/4 t cumin, crushed
1/2 t paprika
3 T lemon juice
4 T currants
fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped
Using a julienne slicer (I used my trusty Benriner Japanese Mandoline Slicer), shred your carrots and beets into matchsticks, do the carrots first and then the beets. If you dn’t have a julienne slicer just use a regular box grater. Toss the beets and the carrots well in a large serving bowl. Add in the red onion and toss as well.
In a small skillet or pot, combine the oil, sugar, harissa, cumin, and paprika over med-high heat until everything melts and gets a bit bubbly. Turn off heat and remove skillet from the heat source. Pour in the lemon juice, mix and then dump over the carrot-beet mixture. Toss with the currants and a little kosher salt until everything is well mixed. Let sit for 30 minutes before serving. Serve in bowls or alongside your main meal and top each serving with chopped mint leaves – don’t leave them out, that’s an order!