I adore this salad and would eat the whole thing myself given half a chance—the combination of sweet charred carrots, creamy ricotta, and crunchy nuts is quite simply addictive. If you’ve never grilled a carrot before, do it now. They are an absolute revelation and show just how good fire-cooked vegetables can be.
Serves 4 to 6 as a side dish
- 1 18-ounce bunch of carrots, preferably with the tops on
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon cumin seeds, lightly crushed in a pestle and mortar
- 1 teaspoon soft dark brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon dried chili flakes, ideally chipotle chili flakes
- 1 clove of garlic, crushed
- 1 1/4 cups ricotta
- 1/2 bunch of scallions, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup pecans, toasted and chopped
- A small bunch of cilantro, chopped
- Extra virgin olive oil, to drizzle
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Trim the tops off the carrots and scrub under running water. Slice in half lengthways, or into quarters if they are a little larger—you want them to be approximately finger-thickness.
Fill a pan with boiling water and add a little salt, then set over a high heat and bring back to a boil. Once boiling, add the carrots and blanch for 3 minutes. Drain well and tip into a mixing bowl. While they are still hot, add the olive oil, cumin, brown sugar, chili flakes, and garlic and stir well to mix. Cover and leave to marinate for a couple of hours at room temperature.
Once you are ready to cook, fire up your grill ready for direct grilling, or preheat a cast-iron griddle pan on the stove.
Lay the carrots on the grill bars or griddle and cook for 15–20 minutes, turning regularly, until they are nicely caramelized. If you are grilling, you can add a few smoking wood chunks or chips to up the smokiness. Use a brush to baste the carrots with any excess marinade from the bowl as you turn them.
Once soft and caramelized, scatter the carrots over a serving plate and dot with heaped teaspoons of ricotta. Sprinkle over the scallions, chopped pecans, and cilantro. Finally, add a generous drizzle of olive oil and finish with a good grind of pepper. Serve while still warm.
Recipe excerpted with permission from “Charred” by Genevieve Taylor. Published by Quadrille.