I decided that I wanted a cool salad to go with my lasagna. Jan really likes carrot salad. Since she had forbidden me to be too creative with the lasagna I decided that would express myself on this dish.
Looking at recipes on-line, I liked the appearance of a Proud Italian Cook recipe. The colorful strips of heirloom carrots made a very pretty effect. Usually when I make a carrot salad I grate the carrots finely, because Jan has trouble chewing tough foods (TMJ). Other recipes called for parboiling the carrots to soften them slightly.
As a counter point to the carrots, in color, texture and flavor, I decided to add some daikon strips. Daikon is a very watery vegetable and I did not want it to dilute my vinaigrette too much. Salting and draining the daikon would solve this problem.
Yesterday, Jan bought me some pomegranate balsamic vinegars, both white and regular. Dark balsamic vinegar would discolor the vegetables. I decided the white vinegar was the better choice to enhance the colorful vegetables. A few fresh herbs and some pepper would complete the flavors.
Finally, I decided to add a bit of flat leafed parsley. As well as adding another color, it would also help keep the vegetables separate. By themselves the ribbons of vegetables tended to stick together in a mass.
After Dinner Note: Jan really liked this salad. It had a unique taste and a very attractive appearance. It also went very well with the lasagna.
Karl’s Heirloom Carrot and Daikon Ribbon Salad
2 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
1½ Tbs. pomegranate white balsamic vinegar
2 large leaves fresh basil, chiffonade
1 tsp. fresh thyme
pepper to taste
Pinch dry yellow mustard
½ lb. carrots
½ lb. daikon radish, sliced into ribbons
1 tsp. Kosher salt
½ cup flat leafed parsley, coarsely chopped
1. Mix the olive oil, vinegar, basil, thyme, pepper, sugar, mustard in a small bowl and let it meld for thirty minutes.
Tip: Mince the thyme leaves, so that their essential oils are released into the vinaigrette. The purpose of the mustard is as an emulsifier, it helps keep the oil and vinegar from separating.
2. Peel and sliced the carrots into ribbons.
Tip: I used a vegetables peeler that cuts a bit deeper that most. You want your ribbons about an eighth of an inch thick, half an inch wide, and two to three inches long.
2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and blanch the carrots for 20 seconds. Shock the carrots in ice water to stop them from cooking. Drain well.
Tip: The thinly slices carrots are tough and brittle. Cooking the carrots briefly does two things. It makes the carrots more tender and flexible. This makes them easier to chew and less likely to break apart when you are marinating them. Dunking them in ice water keeps them from over cooking and becoming too soft.
3. Peel and sliced the daikon into ribbons.
Tip: You will need to cut the middle slices in half lengthwise, so that they are the same size as the carrots.
4. Put the daikon in a bowl and sprinkle the salt over them. Gently mix by hand and let the radish sweat for 20 minutes.
Tip: Daikon has a lot of moisture in it. The salt draws out the excess liquid that would dilute the vinaigrette in your salad.
5. Rinse the daikon in several changes of water and drain well.
6. Place the carrots and radish in bowl and pour the vinaigrette over them. Mix well, so that the ribbons are not sticking together and are completely coated.
7. Cover the salad and refrigerate for at least four hours. Stir occasionally to redistribute the vinaigrette.
8. Stir in the parsley and transfer to a serving bowl. Serve cold or at room temperature.