Basque Style Carrot, Celery Salad with Parsley Vinaigrette
Having just returned from an amazing tasting tour in the Basque region of Spain, I decided to create a pintxo. Pintxo (pronounced pincho) is from the Spanish verb which means ‘to pierce’. In this case, the carrots are slightly cooked to release beneficial nutrients. They are simmered until pierced with a paring knife it is determined that they are cooked but still slightly crisp, revealing a full, sweet carrot flavor. This pintxo may be served as a starter or a salad. When I eat this pintxo I am transported back to the waves splashing near the square, while families walk the promenade greeting one another, an endearing Basque tradition.
Carrots are in the Umbelliferae botanical family. Celery, parsley, and cumin are also in this family and due to their complimentary flavors are often cooked together. Cooked carrots have more beta-carotene than raw carrots, an antioxidant that is converted to vitamin A which improves bone, eye, and reproductive health, especially when combined with an oil. Sherry vinegar, piquillo peppers, and green olives give this recipe a truly Spanish flourish. Once you try these slightly cooked carrots, you may never want a raw carrot again!
½ cup (packed) Italian parsley, leaves and stems (flat-leaf parsley)
½ teaspoon lemon zest
1 clove garlic, mashed
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon Sherry vinegar
¼ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
Carrot Celery Salad
1 pound rainbow carrots (4-6 whole carrots, organic if possible)
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon cumin seed
½ teaspoon sea salt
1 cup celery, thinly sliced (about 2-3 stalks)
¼ cup pitted green olives, slivered
½ cup piquillo peppers, pat dry, small diced (may substitute with roasted red peppers)
1 head Bibb (butter) lettuce, washed, spin dry, torn into bite-sized pieces
¼ cup (packed) Italian parsley leaves
1. For the Parsley Vinaigrette pulse the parsley, lemon zest, garlic, in a small food processor or blender until smooth. Add the Sherry vinegar, olive oil, salt and black pepper and blend well. Set aside.
2. For the Carrot Celery Salad trim and peel the carrots. Cut the whole carrots into two or three equal-size round pieces for uniform cooking. Place carrots in two saucepans (one for the purple carrots and the other for the orange and yellow carrots).
3. Prepare an ice water bath. Cover each pan of carrots with filtered water. Bring both to a boil, reduce to a simmer. Check the carrots at four minutes to test that they are tender but still slightly crisp in the center with the tip of a paring knife. Smaller, thinner pieces may be done sooner than the larger, thicker pieces and removed before the larger pieces. If not continue to cook until proper doneness. Transfer the carrots to cool in the ice water bath. Once cool, drain and pat dry with paper towels. Thinly slice into coin shapes and place in a stainless-steel mixing bowl.
4. Heat the two tablespoons of olive oil and cumin seeds until fragrant and hot, about two minutes. Pour over the carrots. Add the half teaspoon salt and toss to coat. Set aside to cool.
5. Toss the celery, olives, and peppers together with the cooled carrot mixture. Taste, Think, Transform with salt if needed. Place on a platter or plates lined with lettuce leaves. Drizzle with the parsley vinaigrette. Sprinkle the remaining parsley leaves over the top. Serve at room temperature.