more sunny salads: Carrot, Avocado and Orange California Salad

This salad just has to be called a California salad.  All the ingredients would be fresh and local for my Kelly in LA almost year-round.  It's another salad that just tastes sunny. And truly this just seems like something I'd order in LA.  Greg was home when I made it at lunch the other day and remarked that it was all the things I love.  True.  He loved it too, by the way.  I've seen a few similar recipes out on the interwebs, but I think my spin is fantastic.  Give yourself time to roast the carrots and have them cool a bit.  It's great cold, but if you make a nice big bowl of it, it's pretty terrific a little warm too.  Serve it on arugula or baby greens if you'd like.  Grilled shrimp would be a lovely addition too.

Trader Joe's had the best rainbow carrots around the holidays, and I'm hoping I'll see them around again soon:  red, orange and yellow.  They'll be some of the first vegetables at the local (read cold-weather) farmer's markets which won't be too long now.  Any nice carrots will do.  If you buy them in young bunches, leave about a half-inch of the green tops on just because.  I had nice organic carrots without tops and just cut them into baby carrot size.  Oranges are awesome this time of year.  I used blood oranges because I love them.  Cara cara oranges are another favorite with their pretty dark pink segments (and you can get nice big bags of them at Costco).  Buy oranges (all varieties) that seem heavy for their size.  That seems hard to judge, but pick up a few and you'll get the hang of it.  Light ones are dried out, heavy ones are juicy.  You really should cut off the membranes, but that is ridiculously time consuming and I always waste too much orange, so just peel them and pull apart the segments unless you really want to overachieve.  Always keep avocados in your house.  Ripen them on your counters and when they are soft to a gentle push, put them in the fridge and they'll be just fine for 4-5 days.  Throw them in your salads, in your smoothies, on your sandwiches or burgers and on your whole grain toast.  One of the great joys of life.

Carrot, Avocado and Orange California Salad

4 cloves garlic
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt or Maldon salt (fancy flaky sea salt)
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
1 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 C olive oil, divided
1 1/2 pounds young carrots, scrubbed (with 1/2 inch green tops left on or trimmed, your call)
1/2 C vegetable broth or water (optional)
3 tennis-ball sized oranges
2 avocados
juice of half-whole lemon (to taste)
handful of cleaned and trimmed cilantro leaves
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Crush the garlic cloves with the handle of your knife and slip off the peels.  Mince the garlic together with the salt to almost make a paste.  Pour 3 T of olive oil on a baking sheet/pan and add the garlic/salt paste, carrots, cumin, coriander and red pepper flakes.  Toss to generously coat the carrots and spread them evenly over the pan.  Roast the carrots for about 20 minutes, stirring them once or twice.  Add the vegetable broth or water, stir and continue roasting another 15-20 minutes until all the liquid is absorbed and the carrots are nicely browned.  You can skip the liquid and extra roasting, just make sure your carrots are toothsomely tender after the first 15-20 minutes or give them another 10-15 minutes as needed.  Two-stepping with broth adds a little flavor and helps the carrots to be tender.  Set aside to cool slightly.

Peel and segment your oranges.  If you have any juice on your cutting board add it with the segments to your serving bowl.  Halve your avocados, remove the pits and slice in the skin about the same width as your carrots.  Run a spoon under the flesh and scoop your slices out into your serving bowl.  Scrape your carrots and their roasting spices off your baking sheet and into the serving bowl.  Squeeze half a lemon over top.  Add another tablespoon of olive oil as desired.  Gently toss and taste for lemon, salt and pepper.   Garnish with cilantro.

Serve on arugula or mixed greens if desired.  Toss in grilled shrimp if you're feeling extra flush.

roasted carrots and spices

sliced avocado and segmented oranges added to the bowl

tossed, dressed and garnished


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