Knockout gorgeous on the plate–I like to make this salad in the springtime, when freshly dug carrots are abundant at the farmers’ market and some farm stands have sorrel for sale. Sorrel isn’t always easy to find, so know that baby arugula or even watercress is a suitable substitute. Although basil is usually readily available and would work for the pesto, too, I want a bit of bite, an edge of sharpness to balance the inherent sweetness of the carrots. For the dressing, I adjust my pepper mill for a coarser grind, which delivers a welcome spice note, adding to the complexity of the salad.
Carrot Ribbons with Sorrel Pesto and Crumbled Goat Cheese
By Diane Morgan, from her book Roots: The Definitive Compendium with more than 225 Recipes (Chronicle Books 2012)
Serves 6 as a first courseFor the dressing:4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil1 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar3/4 teaspoon kosher or fine sea salt1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked pepper For the sorrel pesto:2 1/2 cups lightly packed roughly chopped sorrel2 large garlic cloves, chopped1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, preferably Parmigiano-Reggiano1/4 cup pine nuts11/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice1/2 teaspoon kosher or fine sea salt2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil For the carrot ribbons:2 large garlic cloves, crushed2 tablespoons kosher or fine sea salt5 large carrots, about 11/2lb/680 g, trimmed and peeled4 ounces fresh goat cheese
To make the dressing, in a small jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine the oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. Cover tightly and shake vigorously to blend. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Set aside until ready to serve.
To make the pesto, in a food processor, combine the sorrel, garlic, Parmesan, pine nuts, lemon juice and salt and process until finely chopped. Stop the machine once or twice to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. With the machine running, pour the oil through the feed tube and process until the sauce is combined. Set aside. (The pesto can be transferred to a jar with a tight-fitting lid and refrigerated for up to 3 days. Remove from the refrigerator 45 minutes before serving.)
To prepare the carrot ribbons, fill a large pot three-fourths full of water. Add the garlic and salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Have ready a large bowl of ice water and a pair of tongs to remove the carrots quickly after blanching.
Using a vegetable peeler, preferably one that is sharp and serrated, firmly peel each carrot lengthwise to create long ribbons, rotating the carrot so the ribbons are all the same width. Stop peeling when you reach the core, then discard the core. Add the carrot ribbons to the boiling water and cook until crisp-tender, about 1 minute. Using tongs, transfer the carrots to the ice water to cool, about 2 minutes. Drain thoroughly and then wrap the carrots in several thicknesses of paper towels to dry. (The carrot ribbons can be wrapped in dry paper towels, slipped into a lock-top plastic bag, and refrigerated for up to 1 day before continuing.)
To assemble the salad, place the carrot ribbons in a bowl. Give the dressing a last-minute shake, pour over the carrot ribbons, and toss to coat evenly. Make a pile of carrot ribbons in the center of each salad plate. Drizzle a spoonful or two of the pesto in a circle around each plate. Divide the goat cheese into small dollops and scatter the dollops evenly over the carrot ribbons. Serve immediately.