I want to share a recipe with you that has been dazzling my taste buds for a couple of weeks now. For lack of a better name, we call this Asian Carrot Salad simply for its having similar flavor profile (rice vinegar, sesame oil, and miso) to the ubiquitous “Asian Salads.”
A couple of years ago, I tried an avocado carrot salad from Gweneth Paltrow’s GOOP website (via Smitten Kitchen) and while I am the kind of gal who will devour guacamole, stuffed Peruvian avocados, or the entire fruit naked (the avocado…Geez!), the combination of a ginger carrot dressing with avocado chunks just did not do it for me. Dazzling to look at, but not a match made in heaven. The textures did not complement each other.
Craving something umami, and lacking the time to commute to Sandbox Bakery for a Negi Miso pan full of scallions, sesame, and miso paste, I decided to revisit the carrot dressing and play with it a little.
While you could conceivably use this dressing on any greens, I do play favorites. If you are a butter lettuce kind of person (as am I) the salad takes on a classy look with the vibrant orange dressing.
My favorite greens with this dressing, however, is the mix of spinach, tiny Swiss chard, and baby kale from Trader Joe’s. I believe they call it “Power to the Greens” and as healthy as it is, it is frankly phenomenal as a base for my salad. You could also mince up larger leaves of kale and cabbage into ribbons and it would also be great.
I add either minced green onions or a handful of chives and their blossoms, toasted sesame seeds and almonds, and end up with a hearty, gorgeous, and completely delicious umami salad. It stands alone. Have it for lunch or dinner.
While you could definitely just whiz all the ingredients into the food processor, I believe that the order makes a difference. Start with the shallot and the rice vinegar. Puree them together in the Cuisinart and let it sit for 2 minutes before proceeding. As with most French vinaigrettes, this mellows the shallot. If you like a real bite to your salad, then please ignore my advice.
Asian Carrot Salad
1 large carrot, roughly chopped
1 small shallot, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons miso paste (I used red)
2 tablespoons roasted sesame oil
1 teaspoon grated ginger
1/4 cup vegetable oil
Toasted sesame seeds (preferably a mix of black and white)
Toasted sliced almonds
Sliced green onion or chives with their blossoms
Whiz the shallot and rice vinegar in the food processor until finely minced. Let stand for at least two minutes.
After 2 minutes add the carrot, miso, and sesame oil until pureed. While the motor is still running, slowly pour in the vegetable oil to emulsify. I let the dressing go another minute or so afterwards so that the dressing is utterly smooth.
Lay out your salad bed, spoon the dressing on top and finish with the green onions/chives, and toasted nuts and seeds.