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a much needed crunch

March 31 2009 by Kristin at The Kitchen Sink in Recipe,Salad » 27 comments

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I recently realized that one of the main things lacking from my winter diet was a crunch.  Think about it.  So many classically winter foods are soft or creamy—either in their natural state (citrus; fresh pasta) or rendered that way by braising, roasting, mashing, simmering and pureeing.  Winter cooking has a way of transforming the most rock-hard of ingredients—rutabaga; butternut; dried beans—into creamy, velvety dishes.  And all that smooth, warm savoriness was lovely for the six months that are Chicago’s winter, but I’m ready to move on.  Forget al dente, I want a real crunch.

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And that’s where this salad comes in.  It couldn’t be simpler and it involves spring vegetables—spindly carrots; magenta radishes; delicate scallions—that should be creeping into your market soon, if they haven’t already.  The scallions are slivered and the carrots and radishes are sliced into disks as thin and colorful as tulip petals.  These are tossed in the simplest of vinaigrettes: lime juice, excellent olive oil, kosher salt.  Finally, fold in a handful of minced cilantro, allowing it to distribute throughout the salad like green confetti.  Let it sit for ten minutes or so, to let the flavors mingle.

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Then, eat it how you wish.  In the 36 hours after I invented the salad, I ate the salad (1) tucked into a warm tortilla, along with spice-rubbed slices of pork tenderloin; (2) straight up; (3) atop a pile of arugula, along with some crescents of buttery avocado.  With each helping, I reveled at the crunch, crunch, crunch—a robust workout for my previously-hibernating molars.

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Really, this salad is the whole package in terms of things that winter food is not: crunchy, as I’ve mentioned; cool; bright; light; colorful.  I’d even go as far as to call it zingy.  I challenge you to find a zingy mashed potato, or a colorful, crunchy one.  Just try.

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And all of this is precisely why I intend to make this salad over and over again in the next few weeks.  Even if there’s snow on the ground, I want spring in my mouth.

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Carrot-Radish Salad with Lime & Cilantro

3 cups thinly sliced, trimmed and peeled carrots
1 cup thinly sliced, trimmed radishes
1 cup thinly sliced, trimmed scallions
1 lime, juiced
extra virgin olive oil, to taste (about 1 tablespoon)
kosher or sea salt, plus more for sprinkling
1/4 cup minced cilantro

Place the carrots, radishes and scallions in a large bowl.  In a small bowl, whisk together the lime juice, oil and salt.  Pour the lime mixture over the carrot mixture; toss to coat.  Fold in the cilantro.  Allow to sit, at room temperature or in the fridge, for at least 10 minutes before serving.  Serve cold or at room temperature, with a sprinkling of salt, if desired.

27 comments so far. »
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  1. Sarah says on March 31 2009 at 7:03 pm:

    beautiful photos! carrots are one of my absolute favorite veggies.

  2. Christina says on March 31 2009 at 7:28 pm:

    Kristin, do you use a mandolin to slice the veggies? Otherwise, that is a lot of slicing to do! The salad looks fresh and delicious!

  3. Whitney Merritt says on March 31 2009 at 8:09 pm:

    I second the mandolin question. Such a wonderful looking salad.

    I love the last line. I am ready for Spring (and the markets to really return!)

  4. Amy says on April 01 2009 at 6:06 am:

    Yes, crunchy is what we’re all craving right now! I love the gorgeous colors in this salad, too. Well done.

  5. Tabitha (From Single to Married) says on April 01 2009 at 6:56 am:

    now THAT is a carrot salad – talk about crunch! :) looks great too.

  6. Jen Schall @ My Kitchen Addiction says on April 01 2009 at 7:19 am:

    That looks delicious. I love lime and cilantro – such great, bright flavors for the spring!

  7. Kristin at The Kitchen Sink says on April 01 2009 at 7:39 am:

    Sarah: Thank you! I love carrots, especially raw, too.

    Christina and Whitney: Yes! I (finally, finnnnnnally) got a mandoline! Best $25 I ever spent (except it’s already claimed a nick off my thumb). It makes the prep for this salad quicker, but it’s really not necessary. The first time I made it, I just used a sharp knife (and patience).

    Amy, Tabitha, Jen: Thank you!

  8. KatieJ says on April 01 2009 at 9:55 am:

    This looks delicious! I adore cilantro in anything and this will be fun to try!

  9. Kate says on April 01 2009 at 11:19 am:

    Is there anything prettier than radishes? This looks wonderful. Another good winter crunch is cabbage.

  10. rachel says on April 01 2009 at 11:45 am:

    Have I told you lately that I love your blog, no, well I do, I do, I do, I do, I do (name those groups?) I can’t remember if I left a comment once, oh it doesn’t matter. I read this post this morning and promptly made it for lunch – it was crunchy and as delicious as I hoped it would be alongside some humus and hot bread – not mine, bakery I live above, proximity both a wonderful and terrible thing

  11. Jennifer says on April 01 2009 at 12:00 pm:

    That sounds so refreshing!!

  12. Beth says on April 01 2009 at 12:46 pm:

    Made it. Loved it. Thank you.

  13. Sarah says on April 01 2009 at 2:58 pm:

    That looks wonderful, my husband is not a radish fan, but I will have to try this one!

  14. sue bette says on April 01 2009 at 4:56 pm:

    I love the bright colors and looks delicious – but I bet it’s even better tucked into a taco!!

  15. Treehouse Chef says on April 01 2009 at 6:43 pm:

    Those carrots look beautiful!!!!

  16. long island says on April 01 2009 at 6:55 pm:

    That looks great.

    The first time I had carrots and lime juice was in India. It is wonderful combination. I will have to try this recipe.

  17. Farmer Gal says on April 01 2009 at 7:13 pm:

    Spring in your mouth… Good metaphor! This is inspirational… I’m in a smooth and creamy rut! I need springtime in my mouth too!

  18. Lisa says on April 02 2009 at 5:17 am:

    Thanks for this! I bought radishes, scallions and limes on Sunday night and was looking for just the right thing. I had everything else except the cilantro (I used dried). It made a great accompaniment to dinner last night. Per your advice, I patiently chopped up everything very thin, thinking all the time, “I am patient, I am patient.” Thanks so much!

  19. Kristin at The Kitchen Sink says on April 02 2009 at 6:59 am:

    KatieJ: Thanks!

    Kate: Nope, nothing. And, yes, cabbage! Though cabbage gets braised into softness too …

    rachel: Why thank you! And, living so close to a bakery sounds dangerous (and delicious) indeed.

    Jennifer: Thank you!

    Beth: Wow! That was fast! Thanks for the feedback, so glad to hear you liked it.

    Sarah: Mine isn’t either, but he liked this salad anyway (particularly in tacos). The carrots far outnumber the radishes, so maybe he won’t notice? : )

    sue bette: Thanks! And, you’re right, it was!

    long island: Thanks! I hope you do try it.

    Farmer Gal: It’s time for crunch, right? Enough is enough.

    Lisa: Wow, more nearly instant feedback! I’m so glad it worked out well for you. And hooray for slicing by hand!

  20. Rose-Anne says on April 02 2009 at 9:26 am:

    I made an off-the-cuff version of this salad last night for dinner, and it was great! It’s rare that I run out and buy the ingredients the day that I meet a new recipe, but this one did it for me. It’s a keeper! Thanks for sharing!

  21. Caroline says on April 02 2009 at 10:35 am:

    simply divine! i love the thin, uniform circles – beautiful presentation!

  22. long island says on April 03 2009 at 3:29 am:

    This recipe is a keeper. Made it last night to accompany a four cheese lasagna (white lasagna). The yin and yang of the creamy and the crunch was perfect.

    BTW Target had a madoline for 8.99. It really made the carrots and radishes perfect.

  23. Melissa says on April 07 2009 at 3:30 pm:

    I just bought a mandoline too. This would be another great thing to test it out with! I neeeed some crunch myself. Vegetable goodness.

  24. Lizzy says on April 08 2009 at 8:24 am:

    Made it, Loved it, Want more!

    I used rainbow carrots from Trader Joe’s so the salad became extra colorful. How do you come up with these combinations??

  25. Mint says on April 20 2009 at 4:06 pm:

    DELISH! I love it! How refreshing and lovely!

    I can’t wait to eat it for lunch tomorrow (and we haven’t even had it yet for dinner!)

    Thanks for another great recipe, and more importantly, teaching me how to combine flavors & improvise in the kitchen. It’s recipes like this, and the chicken, tomato, & white bean stew, that really give me a base for creative pantry cooking!

    BRAVO! (and can you believe we’re supposed to get SNOW tomorrow?!?!?! who asked for THAT?)

  26. Tricia P. says on April 21 2009 at 9:39 am:

    This is delicious. I have made it twice since I read this post and each time there are never any left overs.

    This weekend at the farmer’s market I picked up some purple carrots and added them in with the standard orange carrots for a punch of color.

  27. nikki says on April 21 2009 at 4:19 pm:

    I was just looking for a refreshing salad and I just happened to have some radishes in the fridge. This went perfectly with my turkey burgers! Thanks!

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