April 5, 2012
It’s a beautiful day in Southern California. The sky is uncharacteristically overcast, the weather is cool but not cold, and the light drizzle makes me feel like I’m enveloped in a cordial mist. It’s the end of winter, and as I carry home my bounty of local produce from the farmer’s market, I take a moment to imagine what my friends and family in New York are doing.
Most likely the city dwellers are shoveling wet, dirty snow from their cars and wishing they’d worn a warmer pair of gloves for the task. Or, since it’s later in the day back in my home state, they may have already shoveled out their cars and have now returned only to find that a third of the street has been converted into snow banks and they’d have an easier time finding a consistent stance in Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign than a parking space.
What about the non-city dwellers? Do they have electricity? Are they huddled around their fireplaces and cursing themselves for not buying a generator?
Oh winter woes of the East Coast, how elated I am to have escaped your biting embrace. I revel in the knowledge that I will never need to own a pair of snow boots, scrape ice from a windshield, or worry about pipes freezing as long as I live in California. And unlike in Egypt, there are no African heat waves here to make me long for Northeastern summers.
Sorry, East Coasters, for rubbing it in. Take comfort in the fact that it’s spring now and the weather is warming up! Also, I have a gift for you: Raw Beet and Carrot Salad.
The beautiful thing about this salad—besides that it’s literally beautiful—is that it’s delicious all year long. Obviously, it’s best in summer made with beets and carrots pulled straight from your vegetable garden (or from the farmer’s market). It’s also a burst of summer in the middle of winter when most other in-season vegetables are of the heavy, hearty variety. Carrots and beets, when grated raw and tossed with an acidic dressing are bright, crisp, and very flavorful.
I like to use lime juice for the dressing, but lemon juice or cider vinegar would make a good substitute. Sometimes I toss in some chopped cilantro or garnish the salad with pomegranate seeds. Don’t be afraid to make additions or try different combinations; it’s pretty versatile.
Raw Beet and Carrot Salad is a great side to bring to a summer barbeque—kind of like a more interesting cole slaw. Anyone who’s never had raw beets before will be delightfully surprised by the flavor and impressed with your creativity in the kitchen. Visually, this salad is guaranteed to steal the show with its strands of dark magenta and bright orange. I recommend waiting to toss it at the last minute so the colors don’t bleed together too much.
Raw Beet and Carrot Salad
Optional garnishes: cilantro leaves, pomegranate seeds
Toss everything together and serve immediately if you don't want to the colors to bleed together, or refrigerate until ready to serve.