When the carrots were roasting in the oven and the scent of garlic mixed with cumin and coriander spread through the house, when the oranges were segmented and when the slices of perfectly ripe avocado were mixed with a little bit of olive oil, orange juice and salt, I had my hopes set high.
But I was still overwhelmed when I took my first bite. The combination of different spices, flavors, textures and temperatures took me completely by surprise and knocked me off my feet.
I ate this salad with a friend, but not a single word was spoken during lunch, we were too busy enjoying the salad and going for seconds and thirds.
Recipe slightly adapted from A Girl and Her Pig by April Bloomfield.
I’ve made a couple adaptions on the original recipe. I’ve used ground spices instead of seeds because those were the ones I had lying around and I’ve used orange juice instead of lemon juice because of the same reason.
Serves 4, or 2 really hungry girls who think this salad is one of the best things that has ever happened to them.
4 medium garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
flaky sea salt
1,5 tsp ground cumin
1,5 tsp coriander seeds
1 – 1,5 tsp red pepper flakes (I did something in between, and for me it was the perfect amount)
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
30 or so similarly sized (each about the size of your pointer finger) young carrot (mine were longer, but I just cut them in half)
3 tennis-ball-sized oranges
3 ripe Hass avocados, chilled
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon or orange juice
a handful of small, delicate cilantro sprigs
Preheat the oven to 205˚C/400˚F.
Pound the garlic with a healthy pinch of salt in a mortar until you have a wet, fairly smooth paste. You can also do this on a chopping board by chopping it to the right consistency. Put the paste in a large mixing bowl. Add the cumin, coriander, chillies and 1/4 cup of the olive oil and stir well, then add the carrots and toss well so they’re all coated with the oil and spice mixture. Sprinkle on 3 pinches of salt.
Put the carrots in a large shallow baking dish in one layer. Scrape out the extra garlic, spices and oil that remained in the bowl and spread evenly on top of the carrots. Pour 1/4 cup water into an empty spot in the baking dish and avoid washing the spices off the carrots. Tilt the dish so the water spreads evenly.
Cover the dish tightly with foil and put it in the oven. Cook the carrots for 25 minutes, remove the foil and cook them for 35 more minutes, or until they’re lightly browned and about as tender and creamy as avocado flesh.
While the carrots are roasting, segment the oranges. Squeeze the membranes over the little segments in a bowl.
When the carrots are done, take the dish out of the oven and let sit until the carrots have cooled a bit but are still warm.
Take the avocados from the fridge, half them lengthwise, remove the pit and peel the halves. Cut the flesh lengthwise into slices about the same thickness as the carrots.
Pour 2 tbsp of orange juice and the 2 remaining tbsp of olive oil in a bowl, add a pinch of salt and mix. Add the avocados and gently toss to coat.
Place the carrots, the slices of orange and avocado on a serving plate. Add the leftover orange juice from the avocado bowl to the baking dish and mix with the leftover spices and oil from the carrots. Carefully drizzle the remaining oil and spices over the salad. Top with the cilantro and serve.
Pictures by Esther v.d. W. and me