Dalai Mama Dishes

by Catherine Newman

Catherine Newman cooks for the family

Dalai Mama Dishes

Catherine Newman cooks for the family

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Carrot Salad

Posted December 01, 2008
Find more about salad , dalai mama , carrots , side dish , vegetable
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I considered a close-up of the lime, so you could see how it appears to have been leftover from gin and tonics made during the Pleistocene Era.

Hello? Hello? Is anybody home in those bags that could actually be dinner?

Quit rooting around! Ha ha ha. Here we are.

The dainty rosebud mouth flowers into a carrot-shoveling machine.

"Um, Mama? Is this one of your recipes for Wondertime?" "It is, honey. How come?" "Because I don't actually really like it all that much." WHAT? I can't hear you.

Hello! How was your Thanksgiving? Excuse me? WHAT? No. I still can't hear you. Because somehow my cold has transformed itself into a waterbed that's wedged inside my inner ear, and whatever's left of my hearing is in there, napping.

But I know you're not here to hear about the incessant popping or how I keep blowing my nose and clicking my jaw and cursing or how the children seem, for the first time in their lives, to be incapable of speaking loudly. WHAT? I keep saying, but their tiny pink rosebud mouths can produce only the daintiest petals of sound. WHAT?

I also know that you're busy with your turkey carcass and various odds and ends of yams and cranberries, and this is hardly the time to offer you a fabulous two-day tutorial on puff pastry in 300 easy steps. And so I'm going to give you the world's easiest recipe for carrot salad. It's not a real knock-your-socks off kind of side dish, I realize, what with its quite unadulterated and unthrilling carrotness. But we always have carrots in the house, and I am often stuck looking for a dinnertime vegetable that a) is not edamame again, and b) does not involve wrangling any of the more complicated winter produce into submission. Because instead of enjoying a simple summer farm share, like normal Community Supported Agriculture people, gorging on ripe strawberries and lovely tomatoes while they're in season and then moving onto regular frozen peas and corn for the colder months, we insist on being all hardcore about it and buying something called a winter share, which could just as well be called paying for the privilege of rummaging around someone's freezing root cellar in order to schlep home bushels of filthy and frightening vegetables. Every evening I open the fridge, and, yes, it is packed to the gills with plastic bags full of vaguely vegetal-shaped dirt, but no, there is nothing I can bring myself to make and market to my game-but-weary children (I thought you loved turnip slaw!). Hence, carrots. Everybody loves carrots. And no, not baby carrots, which, as you know, are actually ancient Granddaddy carrots that have been whittled down on a lathe and then soaked in a patented mixture of bleach and pond scum. I'm just saying.

Carrot Salad
total preparation time: 10 minutes
This nearly-instant recipe is infinitely adaptable: you can substitute lemon juice or vinegar for the lime juice, sugar for the honey, and tamari for the fish sauce, you can omit the peanuts, you can use your favorite green herb (honestly, in the winter I often use celery leaves from the inside of the bunch, because that's what we have), and you can even add a splash of olive oil if the salad tastes too pickle-y to you, though I like the clean flavor of the oil-free version.

¾ pound carrots (3 large)
Juice of half a lime plus a few gratings of its peel
A handful of salted, roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon honey
½ teaspoon Kosher salt
A handful of fresh mint (or cilantro, parsley, or celery leaves) chopped
Dash of Asian fish sauce or tamari (optional)

Wash or peel the carrots, and then grate them: I do this in my food processor, but you can do it quite easily on the large holes of a box grater. Stir in the remaining ingredients, then taste it: the salad should be tangy, sweet, and salty, and if it's not, you might want to add more lime, honey, or salt accordingly. Serve to your happy, grateful family, who can't believe you went to the trouble to make them such a fresh and wholesome meal what with the water balloon fight in your ear canal. WHAT?

Get a printable version of this recipe.

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Carrot Salad

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About Catherine Newman

Catherine Newman is the author of the memoir, Waiting for Birdy: A Year of Frantic Tedium, Neurotic Angst, and the Wild Magic of Growing a Family, available online and in bookstores nationwide.

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