Carrot Salad with Chickpeas, Pistachios, Tahini

I'm not sure if there's such a thing as the sister-in-law jackpot, but if there is, I'm pretty sure we've won it. My sister-in-law Lakshmi --who officially joined our family two years ago -- is many things, all of them wonderful. She is a talented cook, introducing us Italo-Americans to Indian dishes like chicken biryani and coconut rice and lemon rice, to name just a few. She is an uber intelligent lawyer, a speaker of the musical and complex Tamil language, a fan of British high tea, a wearer of intensely bright colors (black/white/gray need not apply) and my brother's perfect match. She is generous, funny, wise, and, on top of all this, is also a superb gift-giver, with a knack for selecting the most thoughtful and perfect birthday/Christmas/anniversary (etc) gift for the friend or family member in question. Past highlights include, but are not limited to: a basket of super foods for my enthusiastically health-conscious aunt; a surprise food tour around New Orleans for my brother, who loves nothing more than a good meal; earrings from India for me and my sister, which, magically, go with any outfit.
My admiration for food blogger and cookbook author Deb Perelman is no secret -- I've mentioned her in many a post and have made more of her recipes than I can count (this genius farro, these clever shortcakes, this life-changing sticky toffee pudding, among many others). Her blog Smitten Kitchen was the first food blog I ever started following all the way back in 2007, when I was still in high school. A decade later, when food blogs are now plentiful, Smitten Kitchen still distinguishes itself as the best food blog around. Deb's writing is clever, descriptive, at times laugh-out-loud funny; her recipes are spot-on, delicious, exactly the sort of food you want to run to your kitchen and make; the photos are simple, understated, and lovely. Deb's first cookbook (published in 2012) quickly became my culinary bible, so you can imagine how excited I was to learn that she had written another one set to be released at the end of 2017, called "Smitten Kitchen Every Day." (!!!)

So where am I going with all this? This year for Christmas, the Best Sister-in-Law in the world gave me the newest cookbook from the Best Food Blogger on the scene, and wait, there's more! It was signed by Deb Perelman herself. Yes, you read that correctly -- my sister-in-law, the gift whisperer, didn't just get me The Cookbook of the Year, the one I had been dying to get a copy of here in Rome, she had also had gotten Deb Perelman, Her Royal Blogging Highness, to sign it. I was so surprised, moved, and excited that I may have shed a tear or two when I opened it, and it is, without a doubt, one of the best and most touching gifts I've ever received. The cookbook is 300+ pages long, and, unsurprisingly, I want to make every.single.recipe

After a recent food-blogging-bender of chocolate cake, fritters, and funfetti cookies I found myself gravitating towards the lighter recipes in the newest SK cookbook, opting for this Carrot Salad with Roasted Chickpeas, Pistachios, and Tahini. I know what you're thinking, but never fear! This isn't your usual heap-of-lettuce kind of salad (Deb would never do that to you!) but a salad that is 150% crave-able, a mix of different textures and flavors and colors that play off each other, symphony-like. The carrots here are miles away from the usual clunky carrot sticks of your childhood lunchbox, instead refined and elegant and crisp, their sweetness balanced nicely by the very lemon-y and lightly sesame-tinged dressing. The chickpeas, with a little roasting, are transformed, becoming toasty and crisp, an excellent match for the equally crunchy, earthy pistachios, the whole dish woken up with a sprinkling of bright refreshing parsley. Make this salad, and then make everything else Deb Perelman has ever written about, and if you're feeling a little jealous that you don't have a sister-in-law like mine, I understand -- (I'd be jealous of me too).
(To anyone who knows me as solely Francesca, Ches is my nickname among my immediate family, and childhood friends, who very rarely call me by my full name). 
A couple of notes: Peeling and grating the carrots is a bit of work but well worth it; buying pre-grated carrots isn't quite the same, as they're dryer and thicker than the ones you grate yourself. Use the largest grate on your cheese grater for the grating. I can't find ground cumin here in Rome, so I substituted garam masala and cut down a bit on the salt (garam masala is on the saltier side) and it worked wonderfully. This salad is best the first day as the chickpeas and pistachios otherwise lose their crunch; if you're not sure you will eat the whole salad in one sitting, be sure to keep the pistachios and chickpeas you might have the next day apart and add them to the salad leftovers upon serving. 

Looking for other salad recipes? I've got this Greek Panzanella, this Burrata with Prosciutto and Nectarines, this Insalata di Tonno e Fagioli, this Fennel, Orange, and Olive Salad, and this salad with Figs and Mozzarella di bufala. Looking for other recipes with chickpeas? I've got this homemade hummus, this Pasta e ceci, and this Chickpea, Sausage, and Kale Soup.

(recipe from Deb Perelman)

Ingredients for the chickpeas: 
1 3/4 cups cooked chickpeas, or 1 15-ounce can, drained and patted
dry on paper towels
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

Ingredients for the salad:
1 pound (450 grams) carrots, peeled and coarsely grated
1/4 cup (a good handful) coarsely chopped parsley
1/4 cup shelled, salted pistachios, coarsely chopped

Ingredients for the dressing:
1 medium garlic clove, minced

1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) lemon juice
3 tablespoons well-stirred tahini
2 tablespoons water, plus more if needed
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and red pepper flakes to taste

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Toss the chickpeas with one tablespoon olive oil, salt, and cumin until they're all coated. Spread them on a baking sheet and roast them in the oven, tossing them occasionally, until they're browned and crisp. This will take about 20 minutes. Set the chickpeas aside until needed. 
Whisk all the dressing ingredients together until smooth, adding more water if needed to thin the dressing slightly. Taste and adjust the seasoning; don't worry if it tastes a little sharp and overly lemony, it will be perfect with the grated carrots.
Place the grated carrots in a large bowl and toss with the parsley. Mix in 2/3 of the dressing, and season with salt and pepper if desired. Sprinkle the salad with a large of handful chickpeas and pistachios and dig in. Serves 2 generously or makes 4 smaller portions.


1 comment :

  1. Smitten Kitchen was also the very first food blog I started reading, and I haven't stopped reading it since. Both of Deb's cookbooks are permanent fixtures in my kitchen that I love cooking from. This salad is one of many of her recipes I have bookmarked to make!